Wonk (the band)
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Wonk (the band)

Columbus, Ohio, United States | SELF

Columbus, Ohio, United States | SELF
Band Pop Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""My World" Review"

When one thinks of the fringes of music genres, one might think of the quiet, soft spoken and perhaps gentle-hearted intellectual circles that float around the music scene. Alternatively, the deafening roar of bands that rage too hard or are too crazy to jump into mainstream may be conjured up. Wonk (they make the clear distinction as "The band") manages to mix these two antithetical sides of the spectrum together, fusing eccentric showmanship and synth-heavy tunes with the intellectual and existential qualms of anxious, post-materialistic suburbanites. The song "My World," is no exception, fitting the unique and lively vein of the group's music. What the song "My World" surprisingly lacks in the retinue of the band's extensive instrumental know-how (Finley has, at the least, a basic understanding of just about every instrument in existence) it makes up with the defining reflection of Wonk's music. At 3:24, the song, suffused by the notable presence synthesizers throughout, is punctuated by intermissions of apparent reflection on the part of Finley on the perhaps sad state of a typical youth in America. "My World" is neither exceptionally long nor dreadfully short, however, with a beat endowed with a sort of demented bounciness, the song goes by quickly; strange given the message entailed within its lyrics. It is perhaps this that displays Wonk's peculiar brand of Je ne sais quoi; that strange attractiveness derived from a couple of white kids singing a self-made anthem of youth's absurdities. "My World," as with much of Wonk's work is definitely worth checking out.

-Kevin Jenq - The Norwester, October 2009

"Young musician hones his skills at Grammy Camp"

At 16, Upper Arlington High School’s Rees Finley is a more accomplished musician than many people twice his age.
Finley was the only Ohio student chosen to participate in the fifth annual Grammy Camp, a prestigious national music program held July 11-19 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Finley was among 84 high school students from 75 cities and 23 states selected to participate in the workshop for budding musicians.
“Grammy Camp is one of the Grammy Foundation’s most exciting Grammy in the Schools programs, and it provides an exceptional opportunity for young people looking to explore the range of possibilities that a career in music can provide,” said Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. “Grammy Camp provides instruction focused on all aspects of commercial music by industry professionals in a creative environment with access to cutting-edge technology.”
Finley auditioned for Grammy Camp by submitting a five-minute video essay describing his musical influences and aspirations. He also sent in a separate video of a performance with his band, Wonk, for which he sings and plays keyboard, guitar, accordion, harmonica and flute.
During his week at Grammy Camp, Finley worked with industry professionals such as legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier.
“That was really cool because we got to ask him a bunch of questions,” Finley said. “He’s one of those names that’s not necessarily familiar (to young people), but he’s had a huge impact.”
Working with such heavy hitters was a bit intimidating but also inspiring, Finley said.
“They’re really counting on us to be the future of music,” he said. “As much respect as we have for them, they have that much respect for us in return.”
Finley also worked with other students from around the country to perform and record original compositions with experienced studio engineers.
“I’d worked in a basement sort of studio before,” he said, “but it’s a lot easier when you have people that really know they’re doing.”
Finley, who will be a junior next year, will also attend a week-long singer/songwriter workshop at the Berklee College of Music. When the school year begins, he will divide his time between UAHS and the music program at Fort Hayes Career Center.
He plans to participate in the UAHS marching band and continue to write and perform with Wonk, which also features Perry Kleinhenz on bass, Jack Lynch on percussion and Thomas Young on piano and viola.
Finley said participating in Grammy Camp showed him that there are a lot of talented young people around the country making great music.
“There was this one kid who had opened for Aerosmith. A lot of them had EPs or full albums, and I felt sort of behind on that,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it all comes down to songwriting ability, and in that way I think we were pretty even.”
-Chris Bournea - ThisWeek – Upper Arlington - July 30, 2009

"UAHS band, Wonk, To Perform at Race for the Cure"

For the third time this year, a UAHS band, Wonk, will be performing for a fund raising effort to help find a cure for breast cancer. On Saturday, May 15th, Wonk will be at the corner of High Street and Nationwide Boulevard during the Komen Race for the Cure.

On Saturday, April 24th, the band was the musical entertainment following Scarlet, Gray and Pink—a walk for Stefanie Spielman which was held before the spring game at The Ohio State University.

Back in February, the band held a benefit concert at Upper Arlington High School with all proceeds going to the Stefanie Spielman Cancer Research Fund.

Thomas Young, band member and business manager said the cause was close to the band members hearts.

“In our community, the battle Stefanie Spielman fought and the work that she and her family have and continue to do for cancer research is very important,” Young said. “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and we know many other people who have been impacted by cancer. We want to do all we can to help raise money and awareness.”

Wonk members are also busy performing at many Columbus venues and events. They will be performing at the Newport Music Hall the evening of the Race for the Cure and on May 21st will be the featured performance at the first 2010 WaterFire Columbus event on the Scioto River downtown. - Arlingtonian - May 7, 2010

"Wonk (The Band) - Local Limelight"

MEMBERS Thomas Young (piano, viola, melodica); Jack Lynch (percussion, glockenspiel); Maggie Lynch (bass); and Rees Finley (vocals, keyboard, guitar, accordion, harmonica, flute, trumpet)

STYLE experimental power pop

MUSIC www.wonktheband.com

CONCERTS 9 a.m. Saturday at the Komen Race for the Cure, N. High Street
and W. Nationwide Boulevard; and Saturday evening (doors open at 5 p.m.)
in the Newport Music Hall, 1722 N. High St.

ADMISSION race: free; Newport: $10, or $14 at the door

A little tenacity never hurt anyone - especially teenagers.

The musicians of Wonk (the Band), an Upper Arlington foursome, were too young to enter a contest to open a February concert for the Village People.

Yet, because of their stage presence and musical pluck, they were offered a spot.

The disco icons from the 1970s were set to headline a benefit for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research but ultimately canceled their appearance.

Wonk performed nonetheless, said frontman Rees Finley, 17.

The band recently finished an EP, Greatest Hits, available on iTunes.

Q What does your music sound like?

A Folk music from a culture that never existed. I try to find grooves that are universal but uncharted. Our songs feature unique subject matter: giant squids, zombies, black holes signaling the end of time and what it means to be a privileged kid growing up in suburban Columbus.

Q How did you get connected with the Race for the Cure?

A We have done two huge gigs this year to support the Stefanie Spielman Fund. One was a concert at Upper Arlington High School, where we raised over $1,500. We also participated in the Scarlet, Gray & Pink walk at Ohio State University.

Being from Upper Arlington, the Spielmans are our neighbors. We have all been touched by this incredible family.

Thomas' mom is a breast-cancer survivor, so we have firsthand experience of fighting the disease.

Q What is the best quote you've heard about Wonk?

A A music teacher at Fort Hayes (Arts and Academic High School) said we sounded "like the Police but better" - which I think is hilarious.

I played one of our songs for a songwriting professor at Berklee College of Music, and she said she wouldn't change anything about it. That was a really proud moment.

Q As performers, what challenges have you faced because of your ages?

A It's really hard trying to prove your legitimacy when bars won't let you play.

We've been doing a lot of house parties - which is great because people can come right up to you. And, at fundraisers, you're playing for a reason. - The Columbus Dispatch - May 13, 2010


Rees Finley, Jack Lynch, Maggie Lynch and Thomas Young, students at Upper Arlington High School and members of the band Wonk, will perform at WaterFire Columbus Friday, May 21.

The event, which runs from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., will take place in Genoa Park on the east side of COSI.

Wonk released its first EP in February, and describes its sound as "experimental powerpop." Two of their performances this year supported the Stefanie Spielman Fund, including a concert at UAHS that generated $1,500.
- This Week - Upper Arlington - May 19, 2010

"Scarlet, Gray & Pink features walk, band"

Upper Arlington's WONK band will be performing at Scarlet, Gray, & Pink: A Walk for Stefanie Spielman Saturday, April 24 at the Ohio State University.

This one-mile walk on campus will celebrate the life of Stefanie Spielman and continue to fight breast cancer.

Registration for the walk is $10 for OSU students, $20 others, through http://pink.osu.edu.

Proceeds will go toward the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the OSUUCC-James.

Check-in for the walk is set for 8 to 9 a.m., with the event running from 9:20 to 10:30 a.m. A Resource Fair with entertainment and refreshments is set from 10 a.m. until noon.

The walk precedes the OSU men's lacrosse and spring football game, which will also have a "Scarlet, Gray, & Pink" theme to benefit the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.

For more information on the walk contact Katie Krajny at krajny.1@osu.edu or 614-688-4419. - Columbus Local News - April 16, 2010

"Youth bands appreciate chance to perform in city series"

Initiated by the band members of WONK, about 100 people in the audience erupted into a slow, steady clap while 16-year-old Rees Finley performed on the flute.
Finley’s take on Tears for Fears’ Mad World song was just a small part to the larger jam that he and his band performed in front of the crowd during Upper Arlington’s Music in the Park series on Thursday June 11.
WONK, along with the band Orange Juice, filled the slots for the youth band concert that’s traditionally part of the series.
Organized by Upper Arlington’s Cultural Arts Division, Music in the Parks has been around since the 1990s, said Lauren Emond, cultural arts division arts coordinator.
It’s a great opportunity for the kids to be able to play and reach a broader audience in Upper Arlington, Emond said.
“Most (of them) are just starting to get their bands together, and not too many venues will allow high school students to play.”
Admission is free to the summer concert series that runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday s on the north lawn of the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.
But if needed, such as last week’s concert because of rain, the concerts can be moved to inside the center’s council chambers.
WONK and Orange Juice, which consist of all present or former UA High School Students, were selected to play after a cultural arts division employee, as well as someone from the City’s Cultural Arts Commission, attended the high school’s talent show in April.
From there, they chose two bands to play in the concert series.
It’s a great experience because this is the first professional gig that we have been asked to do, and we are really excited to have a professional sound crew,” said Jack Lynch, 16, of WONK. He will be a junior this upcoming school year.
Pagetech Limited provided the sound equipment.
“It’s cool to show our music to more diverse people,” said Finley, who started the experimental pop band. It consists of four core members, with additional students performing in the horns section.
Both Lynch and Finley said they hope to have more show dates scheduled within the next couple months.
“We have had a lot of support from family and friends, and the best thing about this show is that we get to show our music t more than just our family and friends,” Lynch said.
Following WONK, Orange Juice stepped up to perform. Often referred to as “The Juice,” the rock band originates from the middle school years, said band member David Sacolick, 18. He just graduated from UAHS.
Getting its main influence from classic rock, the band has been playing in the Upper Arlington in the past couple of years, said 18-year-old Harry Sanderson, also a band members and UA graduate.
“In the past two years, we have really branched out and started writing our own music,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson also said it was humbling to play in the concert series.
“The two best bands are asked to play, so to be selected was really cool,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson, as well as the third band mate, 18-year-old Jacob Ciampa, plan to attend Otterbein College this fall.
Although Sacolick will attend Ohio State University, all three members said they intend to keep Orange Juice around.
The concert series started on June 4 with the performance of the high school’s jazz program.
- Upper Arlington News – June 17, 2009

"Village People Cancel, But Local Band Goes On Anyway"

Few spectacles attract attention like a singing, dancing gang made up of a cowboy, an Indian, a construction worker, a cop, a soldier and a leather man. So when the Village People canceled this weekend’s benefit concert for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, there was plenty of disappointment to go around Columbus.

Among the scheduled opening bands for the disco act was Wonk, made up of four Upper Arlington High School juniors who landed the gig at a talent competition staged last weekend by the concert’s local organizers, Battle Plan Promotions.

“I was really pumped to meet the Village People. I mean, how often do you get to meet the Village People in your life?” said Wonk drummer (and occasional glockenspiel player) Jack Lynch.

Though the band didn’t meet the age requirements for the competition, it apparently impressed the judges so much that it was given one of the two coveted opening spots anyway. That made the canceled performance doubly disappointing.

But Lynch said the teens were most disappointed by the lost opportunity to raise money for cancer research.

“We’re really bummed that the concert isn’t going on at all because we’re supporters of the cause. I know that some of us have been affected by cancer personally,” he said.

Wonk keyboardist (and occasional viola player) Thomas Young became an advocate for breast cancer awareness and research after his mother was diagnosed with the disease five years ago.

“In our community, the battle that Stefanie Spielman fought and the work that she and her family continue to do for cancer research is very important,” Young wrote in the benefit concert’s press release. “We want to do all we can to help raise money for research.”

Though the Village People’s concert was canceled, Wonk is going ahead with plans to hold its own benefit concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Upper Arlington High School. Though it’s no Palace, and there won’t be any ’70s pop icons performing, Wonk’s solo concert has all the underlying merits of the original event—generous musicians giving it their all for a great cause.

Wonk will present a benefit concert for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 13) at Upper Arlington High School’s Little Theater, 1650 Ridgeview Road. Tickets, $5, are available at the door. Wonkband@gmail.com. - The Other Paper - February 11, 2010

"Band of UA students wins Premier 'battle'"

Upper Arlington's WONK (The Band) won the Premier/QFM96 High School Battle of the Bands and will open for LoveSick Radio at the 30 year anniversary party at Premier at Sawmill Athletic Club on Saturday, June 19.

The teen band is made up of Upper Arlington High School students Rees Finley, Thomas Young, Jack Lynch and Maggie Lynch.

Wonk (The Band) will take the stage at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $5 for Premier at Sawmill Athletic Club members.

Lead singer/songwriter Rees Finley said in a news release that he is excited to meet LoveSick Radio members.

"They are doing some great things like opening for Bon Jovi in a couple weeks," he said. I am hoping they can offer us advice and share stories of their successes."

The grand prize package includes a $500 minimum donation to Upper Arlington High School's band program. In addition, half of the proceeds from ticket sales to "Wonk (The Band)" fans will be added to the total donation amount.

Bassist Maggie Lynch said she is honored to give back to the music program in UA.

"We are all involved in music programs at the high school and have learned a lot from our directors," she said. "It's great to know that we can support our school this way."
- ThisWeek - Upper Arlington - June 16, 2010


Greatest Hits E.P. - Released February 13, 2010
available on Itunes

Limited Release CD
Live at Scarlet and Grey Cafe Released August 2009

My World in airplay on 104.3 fm

"Origami" featured in BARE Literary Arts Publication 2008-2009



Call me Ishmael. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s engage in a description of the sounds of Wonk (the band). The great philosopher, Elvis Costello, once said, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” and due to the abundance of influences present in the music of Wonk, this song and dance routine has turned into an act resembling Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” With that backdrop in place, readers are advised to proceed with caution.

Wonk is a band that needs to be experienced rather than heard. Bringing together apocalyptic broodings with observationalism more common in a stand-up routine than in the pop song form, Wonk’s subject matter is a collage of many different styles of writing. Taking the lead from artists such as Jason Mraz and the Barenaked Ladies, Wonk integrates quasi-spoken word sections into songs at a spitfire pace. These have become staples of their live show, as they are used interchangeably with philosophical and humorous intent. Below the surface of the pop veneer, Rees Finley’s lyrics explore absurdist themes reflecting the moral implications of his privileged upbringing.

Unlike many washed out rock stars, Finley does not feign that his life has been filled with trials and tribulations on an economic plain, but instead honestly addresses the guilt associated with the middle American lifestyle - a theme to which many can relate.

Wonk’s shows are schizophrenic, switching genres as frequently as they switch instruments (also frequent). They can turn on a dime from ragtime to reggae - Wonk vomits ethnic influences like a bad hangover, though they seem to have a special place in their hearts for Afro-Cuban rhythms, a common thread between many of their songs. In doing so, Wonk takes oddly familiar musical vocabulary and transforms it into melodies that fit in just as nicely between Miley Cyrus and Hillary Duff as they do between Radiohead’s “Kid A” and Arcade Fire’s “Funeral.” Not bad for a bunch of suburban white guys.

Wonk is unlike many Indie bands who think the best performer is the one who performs the least. Wonk concerts are more like a musical orgy than a somber church meeting. The audience becomes engrossed by the act, as the line between the stand-up routine and the fantastical invasion of the body snatchers becomes increasingly blurred. As the evening wears on, Finley’s absurdist campaign takes hold, and the audience no longer cares to distinguish between reality and fantasy and instead is one with the music. In between songs, Finley jokes with the audience, occasionally morphing into a different character - influenced by Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Finley’s flamboyant and theatrical stage presence, combined with his sometimes surreal spoken song introductions, evokes P.T. Barnum lathering up a crowd with a bottle of snake oil.

Having released their first EP in February 2010, Wonk (the band) is a force to be reckoned with. With the music industry flatlining Wonk makes it possible to abandon the separation between Indie and Pop. And since you’ve already read this far, you just lost the game. Teehee.