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Festival to rock South Hillsborough with local talent

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image Hovermode during a practice session on Oct. 30, 2011. Mitch Traphagen Photo

Family friendly festival will feature well known acts in country, pop, and rock music along with Hovermode, a group of extremely talented young people from Rogers Middle School in Riverview.


RIVERVIEW — If you go to Rogers Middle School with any of the members of the band Hovermode, seek them out and give them a listen. If nothing else, chances are that you’ll be talking about them a few decades later at a class reunion.
Hovermode is a Riverview-based rock band with time on their side. The members range in age from 12 to 14 and even with their ages combined, they are still younger than Mick Jagger or Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. But don’t think the lack of years says anything about their sound or their talent. On both counts, they are the rock of ages.

On November 12, Hovermode will rock out the South Shore Music Festival. It will be the second year for the event, which is promising to be bigger and better than last year.

From the songs they play to the instruments they use, it is clear the members of Hovermode aren’t ordinary kids. Forming a successful rock band is much more difficult than working most jobs available to young people. And it is a job. Making music requires dedication, talent and lots of hard work. For the most part, flipping burgers, while certainly hard work, doesn’t require anyone to put their hearts, souls and talent out for public consumption as does music.

Brothers PJ and Phil Cruz formed Hovermode. Phil, 12, is the guitarist, and a young man who oozes music, playing a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar as though the fret board was a playground for his fingers. PJ, 13, makes the wall of sound their music requires on the drums. They were joined by bassist Lynne Conner, 14, and lead singer Rachel Simmons, also 14.

“We just kind of bonded,” Lynne said of the band’s formation.

Lynne plays her six-string bass like the professional musician she is. A six-string is an unusual choice for any bassist — the vast majority use four-string bass guitars. The six-string is more difficult, bigger to handle and requires more dexterity, but it is also a rock music machine. Fronting the band is Rachel, unabashedly belting out vocals that seem to supersede her petite frame.

“Phil and I have been playing in a band for three years, but this band has been together for about two months,” PJ said.

Although a fairly new band, they are already stage veterans, having recently competed in the Teenage Battle of the Bands at the Hillsborough County Fair and at the Sacred Heart Fall Festival in Pinellas Park.

PJ went on to say that their musical influences range from the Sick Puppies to Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and the Beatles. The Sick Puppies came into being in the late 90s, just about the time the members of Hovermode were born. The rest of the bands had ceased to exist long before that, but their music remains. Now that music is driving four young people in Riverview from their school hallways to the stage as a headline act at the South Shore Music Festival.

Last weekend, the band practiced in the garage of a Riverview home while the parents made up the audience sitting in the driveway, sending applause and suggestions out between songs.

“They are so busy with this, they don’t have time to get in trouble,” said one parent with a smile.

Hovermode will join One Night Rodeo, a rising star from Bradenton on the country music scene. One Night Rodeo recently won the Great American Country Star competition on GAC TV. Also joining them will be 10th Concession, a Tampa-based pop/rock band that has played throughout the southeastern U.S.; Southern rock and blues band Diablo Canyon; country and rhythm and blues artist Dustin Seymour; and contemporary country artist Alex Hayes.

Mike Self and Jason Bush founded the South Shore Music Festival last year.

“South Shore has some wonderful events that people from all over come to,” Self said. “Everyone loves music. It’s about business, non-profits, and local and regional artists working together to make a community stronger, fun, and exciting.”
Like all of the big South County events, the festival will include lots of food and a special area for children known as the Kids Zone. The Kids Zone will have inflatable rides, games and a reptile discovery show. Children under 12 are admitted to the festival free of charge.

General admission adult tickets are $15, with tickets for children ages 12 to 17 at $8. Tickets for seniors age 65 and over and for members of the military are also $8. The festival organizers suggest bringing lawn chairs, but coolers and drinks from outside of the festival are not allowed.

Tickets and more information about the event are available online at www.southshoremusicfestival.com.

While you are there, be sure to check out Hovermode and prepare to be amazed at what a group of talented young musicians can do after a lot of hard work.

For more information about Hovermode, visit their Facebook page by searching for “Hovermode”, or visit their page on ReverbNation at www.reverbnation.com/hovermode.

Hovermode - Images by Mitch Traphagen

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