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Rock 'n' roll

October 04, 2005|By HIRA ZEB

Stepping gingerly onto the lush green grounds of the Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, the center stage catches my eye almost instantaneously. Here, I catch sight of five teenage musicians - talented quintet is known as Basement - hurrying about while setting up a stage for their big show at the Hagerstown Suns Chili Cook-off.

As I settle down with my friends, anticipating great music, I scan the stage for familiar faces. Blond, unruly hair marks bass player Ryjan Van Evra, who is conversing with Billy Derrick, who is adjusting his microphone. Billy plays guitar and sings for Basement, along with Conner Gilbert who fills in with lead guitar as well.

A head-bobbing beat filters through the stadium as drummer Andy Jameson gives the audience a loud, catchy prelude to the upcoming set. Dane Schiro fiddles around on keyboards while Andy pounds the beat.

Basement hails from Saint Maria Goretti High School. They formed officially in 2003 and have, since then, undergone various additions and subtractions from the band. Initially, the band played cover songs, but have evolved to playing original music.

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The music starts right off, as the band dives into "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC, followed immediately by "I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles. Conner harmonizes with Billy almost perfectly and the melodious result is just right. The band plays a few more covers and eventually comes to play a few of their original songs. "Going Home" by Conner Gilbert is my personal favorite, due to the catchy '60s-style music and chorus. The words take solid form in my memory, and I find myself singing the tune for the remainder of the day.

After the show concludes, I catch up with Conner to ask some questions. He provides me with general information about the band.

  • The name Basement was chosen due to the fact that the band jammed together in Andy Jameson's basement quite frequently.

  • This is their third year playing together as a band, and have played many shows in those years, These concerts include high school parties, a show at Fun Night at St. Mary's, and also a post-game show last year following a Suns' game. As far as exposure, the concert at the chili cook-off is the biggest show they have ever done.

    The band released their debut album, "Next Year's Memory," this past April. The album includes 11 rock 'n' roll songs - Conner wrote six songs off of the album himself, Billy wrote four others and Dane wrote one.

  • Their influences include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Weezer, and Oasis. "A lot of times, people say that we sound a lot like the Gin Blossoms," Conner says.


Four of the five members of Basement have graduated from Goretti and are in their first year at college. That makes it tough to get together and practice.

"We'd like to stay together and play as often as we can, although it is difficult to all get together to jam now," he says. "We weren't even sure if we could all make it down to play this show. It was rough, but we did it."

A new album is not officially in the works, but not for lack of material.

"We have a lot of original songs, more than enough to create several new albums," Conner says. "However, it's not a matter of playing - just the production process, and polishing the music."

These young men produce music that is sweet to your ears; perfect for mellow days when you just want to relax. They combine smooth vocals with soft rock music to create the perfect original blend that makes up Basement. Their album can be previewed on their website, www.enterthebasement.com. Here, you can also order your own copy of their first album and leave a message in the guestbook.

Give these guys a listen, and their CD will adapt nicely to your CD player for long stretches of time. Guaranteed.

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