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'SCV Rock Star' artist profiles

These six artists will vie for top prizes

Posted: September 18, 2008 4:34 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Johnny Strat is one of the SCV Rock Star contest finalists in the Amateur division who will perform Friday night at the Sports Complex.

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Here are bios submitted by the six SCV Rock Star finalists who will perform Friday night, Sept. 19 at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

AMATEUR DIVISION

* Johnny Strat, Valencia, "Smaller Than My Shadow" -- John Stratton, also known as Johnny Strat, is a 17-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist. He has been writing for four years and has released one EP to date called "love songs for the lost." You can find his music at www.myspace.com/johnnystratmusic, www.cdbaby.com and www.itunes.com. He has often been compared to artists such as John Mayer, Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. Johnny has played as the guitarist for Mitchel Musso in Disney's hit TV show "Hannah Montana" and has toured across the country with him playing for crowds of up to 30,000. Johnny has also played his own music at venues such as B.B. King's and the Universal City Bar and Grill. He is working toward radio play and to hopefully pursue a life-long career in music. Strat says the SCV Rock Star prizes would greatly help him achieve that goal and take big steps towards his dream.

* Aaron Wong, Valencia, "The Ol' College Try" -- Singer/songwriter Aaron Wong cannot live without music. With influences ranging from pop-punk to musical theatre, his music is difficult to define. Taking a cue from Mike Doughty, he defines his music as "small rock." The music is just Aaron and a guitar, but still seems to be a hit with the ladies. Aaron has been writing songs all his life, but they really only got good (or understandable) recently. He is
very excited to be a part of the SCV Rock Star contest, and relieved to know that he knows enough wonderful people willing to help him out by voting. Currently, Aaron is working on a demo, then plans to throw himself into the jaws of the music industry. His recordings are available free at www.myspace.com/cleverlittlepun or www.purevolume.com/cleverlittlepun.

* The FBI Band, Canyon Country, "Level Cover" -- All four members of The FBI Band were born and raised in the Santa Clarita Valley. Their mission is to sonically disturb the music industry with rock and roll. Lead singer/lead guitarist Grant Palmer, 16, plays a ‘65 Fender Mustang. Ryan Potter, 16, brings a metal flavor to the band, playing an ESP. Drummer Zack Mendenhall, the youngest in the band at 13, lays down the backbeat on a Pearl Master set. Adam, 17 (not pictured), plays an Ibanez bass with the group. Grant, Ryan and Adam are self-taught musicians. Zack is a student at Keyboard Galleria in Canyon Country, where he studies guitar, bass and drums. Zack's drum teacher, Dan Stone is the drummer from local rockers Mission:Black. "When this exciting SCV contest was announced, we knew it was an awesome opportunity and we all feel lucky to live in a cool city like Santa Clarita," Zack said.

PROFESSIONAL DIVISION

* un:armed, Canyon Country, "This Nightmare" -- Light. Dark. The shadows in between. White. Black. Gray. Such is the human condition. The SCV-based indie-rock trio un:armed draws their inspiration from the well of anguish that results from traveling within these shades of life. Vocalist and guitarist Douglas Gledhill, drummer Derek Gledhill and bassist Bryan Stage create a dark and haunting, yet powerful sound that interweaves contagious hooks with lyrics of loss and despair. The songs make the heart long for better days and allow the mind to wander between the extremes of morality and existence. un:armed began in 2006 when Douglas, formerly of Los Angeles favorite Fractional, joined with brother Derek, the former drummer and founding member of Smile Empty Soul (Lava/Atlantic Records), to create music both introspective and insightful. The brothers later added Bryan of L.A. based Diamonds Under Fire to complete the sound. With the lineup solidified, un:armed soon entered the studio to record their six-song EP and began hitting the L.A. club scene. The band has performed at all of the leading venues in Los Angeles including The Troubadour, Spaceland, The Echo, Key Club, Knitting Factory and Safari Sam's with some of the best bands in the city including Nico Vega, The Valley Arena, Dead Sara, World Wide Spies, Manic, Middle Class Rut and Low vs. Diamond. The un:armed single "Talk Talk" has been featured on KROQ-FM's "Locals Only" show and in their short time on the scene, the band has gained a loyal fan base and critical acclaim. As LA Weekly writes, "They are armed with black, gray and white ensembles, bringing endless energy to the stage and into the audience...They play their hearts out and make you move to the march of an army of melodies and beats." The band's most recent effort, the video for "This Nightmare," has been selected by FUSE as a feature video for the month of October 2008; it will run all month on the FUSE On-Demand cable channels as well as the channels' Web site. For more about un:armed, visit www.myspace.com/weareunarmed.

* Jessie Seely, Santa Clarita, "Pretty" -- Singer-songwriter-performer Jessie Seely loves to entertain. Although firmly rooted in rock, she's never been afraid to let other styles seep into her music. Seely has joined the roster of Versailles Records' authorized "Too Fast for Love: A Millennium Tribute to Motley Crue," now in worldwide distribution. She was recently named "What's Hot Now" at the highly respected online industry giant www.GarageBand.com, with additional GB awards for Best Female Vocals in Pop Rock and Best Female Vocals Overall. Gigs include an invitation to open for Dishwalla at the Key Club in Hollywood. Seely and her band have also rocked the house at the Hard Rock Café and the B.B. King Blues Club at Universal Studio's CityWalk. Locally, she recently helped kick off the first annual Castaic Days Outdoor Festival. Currently Seely is studying animation and film at College of the Canyons, and as part of her studies she directed and edited her video entry in the SCV Rock Star contest. To find out more about her and her music, visit www.JessieSeely.com. Free downloads are also available at www.MySpace.com/JessieSeely.

* Renfue, Valencia, "What You Wanted" -- Six-piece alternative rock band Renfue (ren-few) started playing together in late 2006. In January 2008, Renfue recorded a four-song demo, and fans, labels, magazine companies, and clothing companies took notice. Now, the sextet is powering its way toward the top. Fronted by a powerful female vocalist, Renfue features Vincent (guitar), Ryan (drums), Rob (guitars), Shane (keyboards) and Sean (bass). With the help of their loyal and loved fans, the band has been able to put on very successful and energetic shows all across Southern California. Renfue turned in a well-received set at the 5th annual Summer Meltdown concert in May, then toured the west including stops elsewhere in California plus Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Wyoming. The group's SCV Rock Star entry was their video for the single "What You Wanted," directed by Travis L. Cook. Renfue recorded the track at SCV Rock Star sponsor Command Studios with producer/engineer Chris Collier of Mission:Black. Visit Renfue's My Space page at www.myspace.com/renfue or their Garage Band site at www.garageband.com/artist/renfue. The band's music is also available on iTunes and FYI online.

"We want everyone in the Santa Clarita Valley out there at the Sports Complex supporting not just us, but all local music -- including every band playing tonight," Sean said. "We know there is tons of talent in the SCV, and we want everyone in the music industry to know it. So we invite everyone to come out and support your local music scene."

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