Farewell to Adam Bell
Interview: Jeremy Phifer
Interview: Luke Wyldmon
Review – 3 Blocks Away
P.S. – Sorry about the mix up with the band name near the beginning. Not my fault. An editing mistake by the publisher. I’ve deeply apologized a million times. I still feel like shit about it. – C
Just to make up for the mistake, here is my original, unedited review of the band. I feel it has a bit more emotion in it. They deserve it.
The members of the band filed through the doorway of the Corner Street Pub fifteen minutes apart. It gave me a wonderful chance to get to know each of them as individuals before coming together as a unit on stage. Originally mistaken for nervousness, an eagerness to begin the show emanated from their young faces. Nothing I write below this line is worthy of the talent exhibited by these teenage musicians!
Blake Adams pulled the short straw to sit at the interview table first. A thirteen-year-old Bass player from Rockwall, he claims his influences as Kiss, Metallica, Megadeth, and Rush. Blake states that his long-term plans are to ride the music train until the wheels fall off with no current interest in college. He dreams of one day playing a show in Madison Square Garden but refers to himself as ‘the quiet one’.
Guitar player Mateo Young was on the opposite end of the attention spectrum. Born in Guatemala, the fourteen-year-old Rockwall resident claims Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” as his first love. Second love?Skateboarding. Although he shares Blake’s lack of enthusiasm for continuing his education, he didn’t have a dream venue. He just wants to play. His personal message to young fans? “I eat tortillas every day.” He never stopped smiling.
Next up was Drummer Cale Bragg. Claiming Dream Theater’s Mike Portney as his musical influence, the thirteen-year-old has no other hobbies. Music is his life. He dreams of playing music inside of the American Airlines Center and plans to attend Oklahoma State University for a degree in some type of music related field. He respects the fans of the band more than anything.
Last to the spotlight was fourteen-year-old singer Kenna Denease. She looks to Ariana Grande as one of her biggest vocal influences but claims her Uncle’s love for music led her down this pathway. Her backup plan is to attend Berkley if singing the national anthem at American Airlines Center doesn’t pan out. Kenna also just landed a role in her high school’s upcoming play “Passing Through Annabelle”. She shares in Cale’s appreciation of the fans stating that none of this would be possible without them.
A sudden, heavy rain began to fall outside which erased any chances of performing as planned. Although it would be expected behavior from most professional, well-known musicians, not a single member of 3 Blocks Away frowned or complained. Instead, their incredibly supportive parents jumped into action, transforming the tiny confines of the Corner Street Pub into a concert worthy stage. This young talent from Rockwall’s School Of Rock had already performed at The House Of Blues in Dallas a few times (the main stage!) and a little rain wasn’t going to dampen their spirits.
“We’re 3 Blocks Away…and we just arrived on our ark!” Kenna informed the crowd as the band began the opening notes to “Tonight, Tonight” by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Suddenly, their age no longer meant anything at all. The band’s courteous and humble attitudes melted away into confidence as Cale, Mateo, Blake, and Kenna revealed to all in attendance that it was their stage, their show, their way. The vocals began to open up and the drums found their groove. The guitarist and bassist smiled at each other, trading licks with every strum. By the fourth song, 3 Blocks Away had found their magic with no sign of stopping, but could they endure through the four-hour performance they’d agreed with in order to play the venue? Yes. It actually intensified with each song!
3 Blocks Away took a pub full of crazed patrons on an unforgettable ride from Fleetwood Mac to Guns N’ Roses. On several occasions throughout the night, singer Kenna Denease left the stage with microphone in hand to serenade the band’s new followers from atop a table or nearby bar stool. The sweat and exhaustion that covered their young faces meant absolutely nothing when it came to the music. The Corner Street Pub was overflowing with curious customers out onto the Lee Street sidewalk, so Kenna walked outdoors to sing to them as well. Then, just when I personally thought they could give no more, they obliged their fan’s cries for an encore. THREE of them! The vocalist finally said goodnight to the ecstatic crowd to have a well-deserved rest, but the boys weren’t finished yet. Enter: Anoxik, a heavy metal band formed by the remaining three members.
A growl escaped from Blake Adam’s mouth that would send most parents running to the nearest priest! Mateo Young and Cale Bragg’s faces switched from angelic musicians to metal masters with the unseen flip of a switch. Jaws dropped throughout the place as the boys entertained a more hard-core sound with an original composition plus near perfect renditions of Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”, “Master of Puppets”, and “One”.
At the height of the mayhem, drummer Cale and guitarist Mateo switched places midway through the song to play each other’s instruments without so much as missing a beat. No one could believe what they were witnessing from a rock band not even old enough to drive a car. The standing room only performance shocked and rocked music fans until long after midnight. One fan’s words to me said it all.
“This is the best show I’ve seen in downtown Greenville,” stated resident Orion Casper “These bars don’t deserve this band!”
“They also do at least two fundraisers a year,” informed band mother Alicia Jordan “They raised over $1100 for Hurricane Harvey relief last year! They’re very humble young people and I’m blessed to be a part of this.”
In summary, the words of Mr. Casper and Mrs. Jordan rattled around in my head as I attempted to put my finger on exactly what I’d witnessed that night at The Corner Street Pub. Talent and humility usually refuse to mix well within the same individual. Multiply that by four and you have a band from Rockwall/Royse City that goes by the name 3 Blocks Away. I would recommend that other local musicians seek out one of their shows at their earliest convenience to see what they’re up against. It may be time to step up the game or move out of the way…because these kids come to school prepared.