Juneau's Young Punks

Missed by a Long Shot lands first professional gig

Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2005

Devin Damitio leans into the microphone, one foot forward, one foot back, his blonde locks peeking out of his black stocking cap as he belts out the words to Green Day's "Holiday."

Damitio and his band mates are probably the youngest punk rockers in Juneau. At 12 and 13 years old, the group, called Missed by a Long Shot, will perform its first professional gig this New Year's Eve at the Hangar on the Wharf.

"I heard about them through the music community," Hangar owner Reecia Wilson said. "I heard they were good, so we went out and listened to them. I definitely thought they were good enough to play in a real establishment."

Wilson hired the boys to be the opening act for Saturday's show, featuring Black Ant Army, an alternative rock band from Seattle. The young rockers start at 9:30 p.m., followed by Black Ant Army, which will play past midnight.

Damitio said his band is ready for its professional debut.

"We're a little bit nervous," he said. "We practiced in front of a few people, and we did just fine. But we're just a little nervous."

The members of Missed by a Long Shot are Damitio, 12, lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Rosh Siefken, 13, lead guitar; Dylan Martin, 12, drums; and JoDarryl Gone, 13, bass guitar and back-up vocals. They've been playing together for about four months and perform covers of Blink 182, Sum 41 and Green Day.

The band got its start when Damitio, Siefken and Gone each got an instrument and started getting together for impromptu jam sessions.

"Before we had the band, me and Rosh would play together," Damitio said. "We would come up with cool little things, and we were, like, if we ever make a band these things would be awesome."

A couple of months later they invited Martin to play drums and the full band was formed.

The group's first rehearsals were in the music room at Floyd Dryden Middle School, which the four attend seventh grade and where Martin plays in the jazz band. They've since moved to Martin's family garage, where the band practices as a true garage band.

Most of the band members come from musical families.

"My dad plays guitar and has a couple of guitars lying around the house, and I asked him to teach me some stuff," Siefken said.

That was two years ago when Siefken was in fifth grade. He now takes lessons and is playing on his own.

Martin's father plays drums and gave his son a few pointers to get him started. Martin first practiced on a "mini-kit" set up on his bed. He now has his own drum set, which was given to him on his 12th birthday.

Gone's older brother plays drums, and he wanted to play them, too.

"I thought it was really rad, but I wasn't very good at drumming," Gone said.

His brother later suggested Gone learn to play bass guitar, which he did. Now he's taking lessons and perfecting his skills.

Damitio watched his friend Siefken play guitar only a few months before telling his parents he wanted one, too. His parents obliged and gave him a guitar for his 11th birthday.

Damitio's father, Dean, said the parents of all four boys are supportive. He said the parents buy the instruments and pay for the lessons and give the boys a place to practice.

On New Year's Eve, the parents will go along with the band to their gig because state law requires minors to be accompanied by a parent at bar-restaurants. The parents say they have a few more years of driving to gigs, helping haul guitars and amplifiers and hanging out in punk-rock venues while their sons hammer out tunes.

new year's eve show

opening act: juneau's 'missed by a long shot.'

headliner: seattle's black ant army.

when: 9:30 p.m. saturday, dec. 31.

where: hangar on the wharf.

"I think its great," said Dave Conway, lead singer-songwriter for the Juneau punk-rock band What Remains and Damitio's uncle.

"When I was his age, it was really tough to find kids your own age that played instruments ... there were always guitar players, but finding somebody who played drums or bass guitar was pretty rare," he said.

Conway has played songs for his nephew and has shown him a few things.

"I've been trying to turn him on to some of the punk rock that I listen to from the 1980s - gateway punk like the Descendents and Lifetime," he said.

What Remains performs at an all-ages punk-rock show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall. Missed by a Long Shot might make an appearance, Conway said.

Asked about musical goals, Martin said he wants a record deal.

"I know there's, like, one-in-a-million chance down here in Juneau to get a record deal, but there's a slight chance that you can, and that's what I really, really want," he said.

Gone also wants a record deal, but if that doesn't work out he'll "work in a music store teaching lessons, go to music college, or whatever."

Damitio said he'd like to go to a music college and maybe start another band when he is older.

Siefken said he thinks he'll do "pretty much the same thing, you know, play places, get a couple CDs out and anything with music, pretty much."

Missed by a Long Shot might not have too far to go to live out its dreams. One of those dreams, a real gig in a real establishment, will soon be realized. And with enough practice and perseverance they might get their record deal. Green Day, after all, started out as teenagers in a small town and ended up influencing a generation of music.

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