The rock band FUSE took second-place among seven competitors in the Maryland High School Battle of the Bands on March 24 at the D.C. Productions Music Hall in Rockville. Devin Streight, a 17-year-old Kentlands resident and Quince Orchard High School junior, is the ensemble’s lead guitarist.
FUSE also features vocalist Aidan Gross, 15, a Churchill High sophomore; bass guitarist Jacob Gemma, a Magruder sophomore; and drummer Liam Chen, a Richard Montgomery freshman.
“The band has been together for about 18 months,” said Jim Streight, the lead guitarist’s father. “All were in other bands before FUSE. They are four really nice kids who get along great.” The band, he added, “was put together at Bach to Rock because of their similar musical styles and abilities.”
FUSE plays covers of classic rock like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder and RUSH, as well as blues—Joe Bonamassa—and modern rock. They have one original song.
This is not FUSE’s first Battle of the Bands. “We participate in battles all over the D.C. area from Baltimore, Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. We were also in the finals of MoCo’s Got Talent at the Fillmore (Silver Spring) last year, and we plan to do it again this year,” Streight said. On March 19, FUSE took second-place at the Century Battle of the Bands in Eldersburg. The second-place they took a week later in Rockville was “only a few points” away from the first-place band’s score, Streight said.
FUSE has performed at venues such as the 9:30 Club, Bethesda Blues and Jazz and AMP by Strathmore, the Kentlands 5K and Rockville Hometown Holidays, and has opened for adult bands at local bars and “even biker bars,” Streight noted. “It’s a win-win for both (adult band and FUSE) as FUSE gets an hour’s worth of playing time and the adult band is helped by the crowd that FUSE draws.” Among the benefit events, they have played for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Children’s National Health 5K Race for Every Child, Rock For Liberty Charity Fundraiser, Kids Rock Against Cancer, Cancer Can Rock, Alex’s Army and Music Rocks Autism.
This is the “third version” of FUSE, said Streight, explaining that “the majority of high school bands seem to evolve, with members leaving due to changing interests once they are in high school, sports conflicts and personality issues. Devin is the only remaining member of the original band from five years ago. This current group of kids is by far the best in term of cohesiveness and friendship.”
“I enjoy playing in FUSE,” said Devin Streight, “because not only do we have similar musical tastes, we also connect as friends and have a great time playing music together.”
Jim Streight helps his son’s band by performing some managerial duties. “I submit the band’s resume and videos to promoters of events that fit the band’s goals. They perform at a lot of Battles—both high school and adult—and at charity fundraisers. I also keep the other parents up to date with what is happening. All the band’s parents are very supportive and attend every event.”
Each of the four band members is an honor student, Streight said, although he believes that Jacob Gemma will be the only one to major in music in college. His son has multiple other interests. At Quince Orchard, Devin Streight is the debate team captain and vice-president of a political discussion group, started a business and finance club, and helps run the TV studio; he also serves on the Maryland Board of Education Advisory Council. This past year, he worked on political campaigns for presidential, senatorial and school board candidates. And he holds two part-time jobs.
Just days before the Battle of the Bands, Devin Streight said the band looks forward to the close-to-home competition. Not only does he “enjoy meeting other bands from throughout the area and seeing everyone’s different style of playing,” he is confident. “We should do fine at the Maryland High School Battle of the Bands as we have been putting in the practice time—plus, we had three events in one weekend two weeks ago.”
Weighing in on FUSE’s “very close second (place),” Scott Martin, a Kentlands resident and member of The V6 Band that hosted the “great event with some very talented bands,” said that “Devin was the standout guitarist in my opinion, definitely the most talented.”
For more FUSE, check out www.facebook.com/FuseMD, www.instagram.com/fuseband and www.youtube.com/user/1969L89.