The Brass Monkeez
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The Brass Monkeez

Youngstown, New York, United States | SELF

Youngstown, New York, United States | SELF
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The Brass Monkeez travel to Alabama to learn from district alumnus Gary Baker

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

LEWISTON — Opportunities to work with award-winning people in any field are often hard to come by. For three Lewiston-Porter student musicians, it was a chance of a lifetime.

The trio of senior Tyler Midgley and juniors Steve Fleck and Evan Waterstrat, otherwise known as The Brass Monkeez, recently spent some time in Muscle Shoals, Ala., with Gary Baker, one of the most successful alumni of the school district. They spent time in the recording studio at Baker’s home and came back with two professional-quality songs to share with the school and their peers.

“It was a great opportunity,” Fleck, the group’s singer and guitarist, said. “With the trip, there’s been opportunities for us left and right.”

Baker, a Grammy-winning songwriter and musician, came to Lewiston-Porter to visit his alma mater this past fall. At the time, he took the opportunity to sit down with some of the school’s talented musicians, including the trio, to talk about what the world offers its musicians on the outside.

Impressed with the group’s talent, he invited them to his home to experience what it’s like to record using state-of-the-art equipment.

“I heard a rumor in January, and I thought people were messing with me,” Waterstrat said. “When February came and they told me it was happening, I was filled with excitement.”

The band’s music is likened to The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and other 1960s and ‘70s rock and roll bands.

So when they went to Baker for their recording sessions, Waterstrat said their new friend wanted the experience to be as close to a professional recording session as possible, meaning they worked to perfect their two songs instead of laying down as many tracks as possible.

“We recorded a song and kept working at it,” he said. “He wanted it to be like a real recording experience.”

The Brass Monkeez already have experience with being a professional band. They actively work with some of Buffalo’s best in the music business, including another national recording artist who’s one of the area’s biggest cheerleaders.

Robby Takac, bassist for the Goo Goo Dolls, is also the founder of the Music Is Art program, which, among other things, promotes music education in schools through the Music In Action program. The Brass Monkeez have participated regularly since Music In Action was brought to Lew-Port, and even won a Battle of the Bands program to meet Takac.

Education in music is important to this group, as well as countless others, which takes pride in artistic talents. The school even allows Fleck to occasionally walk the halls, playing his acoustic guitar for his fellow students.

In addition to allowing their talent to flourish, it also connects the members to the school they otherwise would just blend into like countless other teenagers who’ve come before them.

“It gives us a better connection to our school,” Midgley said. “We get to meet a lot more musicians, new musicians who we wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

The band doesn’t get many opportunities to play full sets for their classmates, but one event they do appreciate is the school’s Lancer Fest, a rally honoring the winter and spring athletes. There, they get to sit down with other bands at the school, other musicians, and do what they do best: play music.

For more about the group, the band’s website is www.thebrassmonkeez.com.

- Niagara Gazette





Rock ‘n’ roll has always been a young person’s game. And bands don’t get much younger than the groups coming to Niagara University on Friday night.

NU’s High School Rock Band Showcase returns for the fourth year Friday. The show, featuring five bands from area high schools, kicks off at 8 p.m. Each band will perform a 20-minute set at the showcase.

Night & Day received information about each of the high school bands involved in this year’s showcase — some bands responded to questions through e-mail, others passed along information to NU. Here’s a closer look at the sounds they’ll be bringing to the stage.



The Brass Monkeez

Band members: Steve Fleck, 13, lead guitar, lead vocals, harmonica, keyboard; Ryan Dallavia, 15, guitar, vocals and one-finger piano; Evan Waterstrat, 14, electric bass, backup vocals, violin; Alex Schmitt, 13, drums, backup vocals, percussion.

High school: Lewiston-Porter.

How the group got its band name: “We have a friend who used to call us, and only us, a ‘Brass Monkey’ if we made a mistake or messed something up, and it was before we even formed the band. But once we formed (the band), we remembered that, thought it was a cool name and decided to spell it ‘The Brass Monkeez’ so that the guitar could weave through the ‘Z’ in our logo.” — Fleck

How long the band has been together: About seven months.

Description of band’s sound: “We sound like a mix of the Beatles and the Who.”

Biggest influences:

“By far” the Beatles; also John Lennon, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin.

Other comments: “Our shows have lots of energy, and we plan on going all the way. Our goal is to make the younger generation realize the real value of classic rock and the music of the ’60s and ’70s.”

- http://lockportjournal.com/


Included in the lineup is the 2011 Music is Art Battle of the Bands winner The Brass Monkeez from Lewiston-Porter High School and the 2011 MiA Big Easy in Buffalo winner Bluegrass Boulders from Kenmore East High School. - Buffalorising.com


The twin-bill also features The Brass Monkeez, local favorites from Niagara County. The band specializes in classic rock, “jam-band” rock and mixtures of jazz, funk and the blues. They pride themselves on writing original music in the style of bands like The Beatles, The Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, The Grateful Dead and The Who. Winners of Niagara University’s High School Band Showcase and the Music is Art High School Battle of the Bands, the band consists of Steve Fleck, age 16, Ryan Dallavia, 17, Evan Waterstrat, 16, John Snell, 17, and Tyler “Smidge” Midgley, 17. - Niagara University


Discography

One Guitar-Steve Fleck*(Willie Nile Cover)
Girl-Steve Fleck*

*Available on I tunes, amazon.com and cd baby.
All proceeds benefit the hungry

Photos

Bio

Steve Fleck: Aspiring artist with uncontainable passion for the beethovian philosophy that music is a form of very powerful, expressive art, and i live to create it.
I started playing guitar at age 12 because i thought i didn't like trombone and i loved the Beatles, so i learned the guitar and bass parts to nearly all their songs.
Then at 14 I got into Zeppelin and blues, as well as a general appreciation for music with heart and soul. From this love for expression and emotion in music, i grew to love the Grateful Dead because i thought they were the most expressive and creative group ever.
Then at 16 (this year) I enrolled in Music History, which changed my life.
It broke all my preconceived notions about classical music (which i thought i did not like). It broadened my interests, influences and understanding of music. The delicate clarity of Mozart brought me subtle happiness, intense choral polypony by Thomas Weelkes blew away CSN, the emotion of Beethoven and his passion inspired me, and the functional Harmony of Bach helped me to better understand why music pulled on emotions and how it does it..but i still approach everything assuming there is far more to learn, because arrogance is parochial and wasteful in my opinion. I live to create the best music i can with others or alone, while taking inspiration from everything around me and learning every step of the way.

I would call my music Historical Fiction, because it usually incorporates a tale that is either made up or true from some time period and its context, who's norms i may alter in any way because i can. i love history and stories of the past, as well as diverse music from throughout the world in different eras. My lyrics and music express me in different ways; My lyrics shed light on stories that deal "problems of the ages" like love, persecution (corrupt govt vs. citizen, parent vs. child, misfit vs. society, outlaw/nonconformist vs. society etc) , travel, and daily life. My music shows the delight and happiness that i find in nature in sporatic contrast to the greed and hatred that i sometimes see in society. The two are brought together with motives and styles from eras gone by which crop up in lyrical allusions or musical motives.

I have recently discovered and been exploring my love for jazz. I have taken blues/rock/fingerstyle/slide lessons for a year now (after being self taught to that point) and started taking jazz/classical 6 months ago. My favorite jazz artists which are quickly influencing improvising style are Miles Davis, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Weather Report, and especially Louis Armstrong (he makes my favorite sounds). To me, jazz seems to be the peak of musical freedom, intelect, and expression.

Major influences:
Writing Style (Structure, Form, Harmony):
Jerry Garcia, Miles Davis, John Lennon/ Paul McCartney, Mozart, Eric Clapton, Beethoven, and The Allman Bros. Electric Lead:
Danny Gatton, Duane Allman, Jerry Garcia, Louis Armstrong,Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix
Rhythm:
Bob Weir (his voiceleading especially), McCoy Tyner, Igor Stravinsky, John Lennon, Mozart (he showed me meter changes over a common pulse)
Acoustic :
Jorma Kaukonen, Reverand Gary Davis, Robert Johnson, Jack Thurman, big band accompany players before they went electric.
Singing:
John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Robert Plant
Lyrics:
History, Folktales, Opera Libretto, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Robert Hunter, Bruce Springsteen, AP English Class

My Band, The Brass Monkeez gigs frequenly and believe greatly in playing music above all else, especially if its making people happy and/or helping people. We have played the Relay for Life 4 years in a row (since 8th grade) and done lots of work for the Tunes for Food Program and the Foodbank of Western New York through Robby Tackack's Music is Art Program. We have won several battles of the bands (one at HSBC arena in Buffalo) and