News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Hangin’ With Stogie: The new sound of Fredericksburg
BY BRITTANY DeVRIES
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Hangin’ With Stogie’s rehearsal space is a musician’s paradise, with amplifiers and microphones and thick black cables connecting them all to a central control room. That’s where Christina Reese and Kylie Westerbeck sit, at home among an impressive array of music-making technology.
The third member of Hangin’ With Stogie, Megan Green, is on speaker phone from the beach, where she’s on vacation with her family. The cellphone, propped on a metal chair, is proof of her physical absence and a reminder that all three girls are teenagers living normal teenage lives when they’re not in the recording studio.
“I like singing,” said Megan, 15. “I remember me and my dad would be going to church and listening to music, and I would ask Dad to teach me harmony. My dad and grandfather are three generations of musicians. It’s really cool that I can learn different things from them. Grandpa was in a soul group.”
History might be part of it, but there is something else that gives Hangin’ With Stogie the weight of heavy expectations. There seems to be a lot riding on three sets of young shoulders, and maybe youth is to blame. They seem prepared to follow in the footsteps of the latest crop of adolescent superstars, with a lot of the same sort of catchy lyrics and polished radio sounds sold by Justin Bieber and One Direction.
Hangin’ With Stogie’s instrumental prowess, coupled with their all-girl membership, begs comparisons to the Dixie Chicks. Their youthful lyrics about summer romance and friendship are very Taylor Swift-ian, and Hangin’ With Stogie has adopted the country–pop flavor of both of those successful acts.
Those are big names to try to live up to, but the band members seem perfectly content toting around those expectations.
“Pressure is mostly what I put on myself; my expectations,” Christina, 12, said. “I want to be able to do everything I’m capable of.”
Kylie, 14, is more soft-spoken than the other two, and very much at ease with her words.
“Even if it never worked out, this was still the best experience I’ve ever had,” she said. “It has been a lot of fun going to gigs and performing.”
And Hangin’ With Stogie will always have an advantage playing live. At a recent CD-release party at The Olde Silk Mill, all three matched the energy of the audience and played with a growing confidence throughout the night.
They rose to the occasion, comfortable in the spotlight when they strutted through the audience during one of their songs.
The man behind the band is Christina’s father, Dr. Andrew Reese. He hovered over his daughter as she answered questions for this interview, interjecting advice and guiding his daughter toward the answers that satisfied him.
Christina thanked her father for everything he had done—and continues to do—for the band. He’s been their biggest cheerleader and has handled business and production arrangements that have united the band with talented people like Jeff Covert (recording engineer) and Jeff Silverman (mastering).
There are times when handlers—especially handlers who are also parents—run the risk of hindering artists. While this doesn’t seem to be a risk for Hangin’ With Stogie, there was a moment at the Olde Silk Mill concert when Reese raised his voice at another band member’s father. It was enough of a scene to give the audience pause.
The three talented young ladies of Hangin’ With Stogie played on, hammering out one radio-pleasing adolescent country–pop song after another. But the best moments happened when the bare bones of artistry poked through the pop gauze. Those moments were even more impressive considering the backing band is also quite young, with T.J. Honaker, 15, on mandolin and 19-year-olds Tyler Reese and Margo Deihl on guitar and fiddle.
The music might not be edgy, and it might not sound terribly original, but Hangin’ With Stogie has an appealing style. They are shooting for the stars, and they have a sound that could get them there. It’s just a question of whether they want to take the trip.
Brittany DeVries is a Fredericksburg resident who likes horses, local music and writing, in that order.