Striking his own chord

By on February 21, 2018

The Scouts include (left to right) guitarist Nate Yager, Joshua Buckwalter on drums, and Justin Buckwalter on bass. Photo by Laura Knowles

Warwick student Justin Buckwalter of the Scouts played at Fire & Ice with guitars crafted of wood from a relative’s Orchard Road property.

The Fire & Ice festival on Friday night was the first big performance for a young band from Lititz.

And what a debut it was for the three teen band members from Lititz.

When the Scouts showed up for their show on West Main Street, near Lititz Square, they were amazed at the stage, lights and sound that had been set up for them by Stray Lighting.

For lead guitarist and vocalist Nate Yager, 17, his first reaction was, “Is this all for us?”

The band’s bassist Justin Buckwalter, 18, and his brother Joshua Buckwalter, 16, drummer, had the same response. For a band that had only been together for six months, with their last community performance on the patio at Dosie Dough, it was an amazing night.

They felt like rock stars — or maybe alternative rock stars — with an audience of fans gathered on the street and cheering them on. One man in the audience asked, “Are these guys professionals?” Others came up to them after their show to tell them how much they liked their music.

“It was pretty cool,” says Yager, who is a junior at Lititz Christian School.

He hopes to continue in music, possibly majoring in music at college. This summer he is set to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston to study guitar for a summer youth program.

Yager and his friends named their band the Scouts, because they met each other years ago when they were Cub Scouts in the same troop. They remained friends over the years and kept in touch, even though they went to different school. Justin and Joshua Buckwalter are students at Warwick High School.

All three teens performed at their respective churches, the Buckwalters at LCBC in Manheim, and Yager at Grace Brethren Church in Lititz. They didn’t get together as a band until September when a band was needed for Second Friday in September.

Yager works part time at Lititz Music Co. on North Broad Street. One day Dosie Dough owner Amy Lloyd stopped by to ask Lititz Music Co. owner Ben Hartranft if he could recommend a band to fill in for a band that had canceled for Second Friday.

That was the golden opportunity for Yager and the Buckwalters.

The band was put together right then. A few weeks later, the Scouts were born. They did their first concert on the concrete patio in front of Dosie Dough. They were a hit.

So when Hartranft was on the committee for Venture Lititz, he suggested the Scouts as one of the bands to perform for the Fire & Ice Festival. The Scouts would perform in their first big concert at one of Lititz’ most popular community events.

They are definitely a self-made band.

Justin Buckwalter even makes his own guitars, crafting them from wood from a relative’s Orchard Road property in Warwick Township.

“I didn’t make this bass guitar, but I have made another guitar, using wood from the Lititz area,” says Justin.

All three of the band members have written their own music. They usually team up to write the music, while Yager writes the lyrics. So far, they have three original songs.

“They are so new, we didn’t even give them titles yet,” says Yager. “We’ll have to do that when we do our first album.”

That’s right, the Scouts are planning an album, which will be recorded at the Buckwalter’s basement, using studio recording system software on a laptop. They’re not quite sure when they will record it and how they will distribute it. They also want to write– and name– a few more original songs.

They debuted their new songs at the Friday night concert, to rave reviews. They also did several covers by the Black Keys, Cage the Elephant and Weezer. The audience especially loved their version of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”

The Scouts are hoping that they might follow in the footsteps of another Lititz band, the Districts, who got their start in Lititz and now tour nationally. Rob Grote, Mark Larson, Connor Jacobus and Braden Lawrence were students at Warwick High School when they got started.

“I never miss their concerts when they are in the area. The Districts are a band I look up to,” says Yager.

With the Lititz Fire & Ice Festival, you just never know if the Scouts’ big debut will be the spark to launch another popular Lititz band.

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