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The Districts make a name for themselves on local rock music scene
By: RICHARD REITZ Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
The Districts have recorded a full-length album, are performing concerts nearly every weekend at venues like the Chameleon in Lancaster, and have nearly 1,500 fans following them on Facebook.
But from Monday through Friday, they are like any other Warwick High School seniors, attending classes, taking notes, preparing for tests and pop quizzes, and looking ahead to graduation in June.
For the past three years, The Districts have been performing what guitarist Mark Larson described as "folky garage rock."
Mark, the only member of the band who has graduated (he is a member of the Warwick Class of 2012), said that the group got together in 2009 for a coffee house show at Warwick High School.
Mark, along with singer and guitarist Rob Grote and bass player Connor Jacobus, began rehearsing for the first time as a band a few weeks before their debut performance.
"We still needed a drummer at that point, and that was when we found Braden," Mark said, referring to Braden Lawrence, a friend and fellow classmate who also happened to be a pretty good drummer.
A fifth member, former classmate Josh Sunseri, also performed with The Districts until his family moved to Colorado.
"We played a lot of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin that night, and it went really well," Mark said.
The band name emerged from a brainstorming session before that concert, where they listed a number of possibilities, among them The Districts.
"We threw around a few possibilities, but then someone wrote down The Districts for the coffee house show, and we just stuck with it," Mark said.
From that moment, they continued to perform together, jamming in random locations. Gradually, they started performing in more established venues.
"We played some gigs in Lititz, and then started writing and performing our own music," Braden said.
Their shows now feature mostly original material from the band.
Mark recalled his start in music… back in first grade at John Beck Elementary School when he heard a violinist perform in a school assembly. "I said to myself that I have to play that."
He started taking violin lessons, and eventually learned how to play the guitar as well. Braden’s interest in music began with guitar lessons in third grade, but by fifth grade he had shifted his focus to playing the drums.
Today they try to practice together at least once a week, and most weekends they have a live performance. Last weekend they were in Philadelphia to perform at the City of Love Festival sponsored by WXPN and the Philadelphia Folksong Society.
Their next performance will be this Friday, when they open for Juston Stens and The Get Real Gang at the Elks Lodge Ballroom, 219 N. Duke St., Lancaster. Doors open at 8 p.m. and it is an all-ages show. Tickets are $10. The concert is being presented by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.
"We are very excited to be playing with Juston," Mark said.
Stens, the former drummer for the Philadelphia band Dr. Dog, is one of their favorite performers.
Other upcoming performances include a show in Wilmington, Del. on Jan. 25; the Cellar in Lancaster on Jan. 26; and on Feb. 28 they will perform at The Chameleon Club in Lancaster with Toy Soldiers.
They’ve had memorable gigs over the past few years, but one still stands out for the band.
"The album release party at The Chameleon was pretty awesome," Braden said, referring to the concert last June to kick off the release of their album "Telephone."
Fans are able to listen to songs from "Telephone" (and some of their earlier songs as well) on their website, http://thedistricts.bandcamp.com or follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thedistrictsband.
Where will the members of the band be in five years?
"Well, we’re just taking it day-by-day right now," Mark said.
But after Braden, Rob and Connor graduate in June, the band is planning on moving to Philadelphia to find a house together and pursue their music further.
"The Philly music scene is pretty cool," Braden said. "It’s a big city but it’s still close to home, so it’s a good place for us to expand our circle."
The band has made a lot of connections in Philly, which makes it an ideal location for them to grow.
After taking a year off from school, Mark said that some of the band members will probably enroll in college as well as pursue the interests of the band.
They are hopeful that five years from now, The Districts will have made a name for itself on a larger scale.
"We’ll either be college graduates or college dropouts," Braden said with a laugh. But if The Districts make a name for themselves on a national scale, then this might be that rare instance where being a dropout isn’t such a bad thing. More THE DISTRICTS, page A7