Wheeling Park students ready to rock | News, Sports, Jobs

Mozart’s Jacob Wolfe, left, and Bethlehem’s James Kawasaki formed their progressive rock band Lunary when they were in eighth grade. Now budding seniors at Wheeling Park High School, they write their own music and look for gigs.

MOZART – There’s technically carpet on the floor and a chest of drawers against one wall. But, Lunary is clearly a die-hard garage band in the same spirit as Nirvana, The Ramones and The Who.

The only reason they practice indoors is because there’s a guest room in band member Jacob Wolfe’s Mozart house and there’s a deafening door not only in the room but upstairs. of the stairs leading to the first floor. “She kind of got used to it,” Wolfe said of her mother and the roar that can surely be heard downstairs anyway.

Also, as noted by band member James Kawasaki, the garage in question tends to take on water during thunderstorms.

So the two 17-year-old seniors from Wheeling Park High School settled into more comfortable digs. Drums and a variety of guitars are both pleasantly dry and equally positioned in the room – ready to rock and roll when they are. And, even though both work in addition to attending school, it’s surprisingly often.

“Sometimes we practice four times a week for hours, said Kawasaki, who plays drums for Lunary performances and laid down bass tracks for recordings the bands experimented with as finances allow it.

Other times, the realities of school and work mean it can be once every two weeks. But, Kawasaki and Wolfe have some kind of longevity on their side to balance that out. Friends since taking the bus to Wheeling Middle School together in sixth grade, they had already formed Lunary in eighth grade.

The duo is the core of the band, with other musician friends joining in on the few times they’ve had gigs so far. “We’re only two people, so we can only play so many instruments at once,” Kawasaki pragmatically noted.


Not that they couldn’t play more in theory. Both teenagers are heavily involved in the Wheeling Park music program. They sing. They are in band. And, since there are no other current students playing drums, Kawasaki said he also fills in wherever performance needs take him.

When it comes to Lunary, the two do it all starting with their discovery and commitment to the progressive rock genre. It’s a mix of hard rock and jazz popularized – at least in some circles – by West Coast-based bands such as Tool and Dance Gavin Dance.

However, their genre choice has been a bit of a venue issue for the band. “What we play is quite popular with some people, but not here,” Kawasaki said, noting that local tastes tend to lean towards country, bluegrass and rap.

Age is also an issue, they said. Since they are underage, some venues that might be open to their rock style are otherwise closed to them.

“There’s nobody our age,” Kawasaki noted of local rock artists. He said the only other band involving Wheeling Park students that they know of is a bluegrass band.

“It’s hard to find someone who even listens to the music we listen to.”

But the teenagers are not discouraged. They don’t just play genre covers, they write original music.

Wolfe, who does his own instrumentals and most of the lyrics, likes to think of his work as poetry. Some examples of stanzas include:

“Flee with me.

Easily replace stress

Until you want to be

Right next to me” and

“I do not know why

The world is like this

But I know that

Times will change.

Kawasaki, who also writes instrumental parts, likes to think of his songs as emotional ballads.

“I want the song to tell a story – a hard part and a softer part,” he said. “When you finally finish a song, it’s amazing.”

The collaborative angle is also something they both mentioned as a motivator.

“I just like playing music with other people,” Wolfe said. “It’s funny. It’s like a stress reliever in a way.

Kawasaki added that their peers tend to react positively, which is encouraging. “I think our girlfriends love our music,” he joked. “No one told us they hated it.”


As rising seniors, Kawasaki and Wolfe are hoping to get as many gigs as possible in the coming months, but also have college on their minds. Both are considering West Virginia University and both have an interest in engineering – computer science for Wolfe and aerospace for Kawasaki.

Not that they would turn down an opportunity to become professional musicians if that remote possibility somehow emerged, they admitted with a smile.

In the meantime, they will continue to blast the tracks and add a guitar or recording device to their collection as time and finances permit.

Kawasaki acknowledged that it had already amassed seven guitars. Motioning to one sitting on his stand for the moment, he laughs. “I worked about 35 hours to get this guitar,” he said. “Oh man, it’s been a rough week.”

Readers who would like to hear Lunary perform will have to wait a while unless their rock and roll dream gives rise to some imminent gigs. The band has an Instagram site — #lunary_bandofficial — but hasn’t uploaded any recordings to it yet.


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Corina C. Butler