Just a few short weeks ago, five teenagers who were taking lessons at The Music Loft did not even know each other, yet now, they’re making amazing music together.
Brothers Brandon and Chase Mansfield, ages 15 and 12, respectively, had been taking drum and guitar lessons for about 18 months at The Music Loft. Summer was approaching, and their dad, Mike Mansfield, didn’t want his boys to be wearing out their thumbs playing video games, so he approached Wes Ashburn, owner of The Music Loft, to have a band formed with his sons. Manny Santos, who teaches vocals and multiple instruments, found other students to round out an ensemble of musicians who could create a cohesive sound together. They became “Quaranteen.”
The Mansfield brothers came up with the name.
“Quaranteen” comprises Brandon on drums and Chase on guitar, along with Preston Burnside, 11, on rhythm guitar and vocals; Jonathan Bridges, 15, on lead guitar; and Gracie Crews-Smith, 15, on lead vocals. Santos rounds out the band on bass guitar.
They’ve rehearsed over the summer and have really come a long way.
“Eight weeks ago, these kids could not even play a song, but now they know many,” said proud dad Mike Mansfield. “The kids have learned something special. I wanted them to learn to work things out. The kids learning to play something over and over until they got it right, was an amazing lesson to learn. My kids are standing a foot taller now! I’m so proud of them!”
Santos, who also is the general music teacher and recorder orchestra director with the La Vernia Independent School District, handpicked these students for the band, then realized they needed a lead vocalist. Gracie put aside her personal song preferences to learn their set list of rock songs. She has memorized the words to each song, even though she may have never heard that song prior to this experience, he said.
“In fact, these kids did not know most of these songs before this ...,” Santos said.
Learning the songs was part of their homework.
“That’s what is so wonderful about these kids,” he added, with pride. “They did their homework. They have also learned that it’s not a band unless everyone is there. It’s not about ‘me’; it’s a group effort. They’ve learned to play together as a group.”
“What Manny did with these kids over the summer blew away any other experience we have had so far with lessons,” said Preston’s mother, Natalie, who created the band’s logo. “To have that type of opportunity here locally in La Vernia instead of driving three days a week to San Antonio is awesome. That’s an opportunity that goes way beyond music.”
Band members performed Aug. 8 at The Music Loft. Parents went to hear their kids play as “Quaranteen” and the room was packed to hear the band’s renditions of “Hotel California,” “Wild Thing,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and other rock standards.
Jonathan did a great job with the tricky and well-known guitar riffs in “Hotel California.” Gracie’s vocals were great, and Preston backed her up on some of the vocals and did a couple of solos; he also rocked his guitar parts. The Mansfield boys did a great job on guitar and drums, and Santos clearly enjoyed himself playing with his protégés.
Catch “Quaranteen” in concert this Saturday, Aug. 27, at The Den on Bluebonnet (F.M. 775).
The band also plans to audition in September for this year’s “Wilson County’s Got Talent” show, set for Nov. 12.