Teens Take the Title

Major changes, close-knit friendships and an energetic sound contribute to newest Musikarmageddon victors Rusty Blue

When Rusty Blue was announced as the victorious band at the Musikarmageddon competition on Oct. 14 at the baby grand, members of the group began laughing uncontrollably.

Says bassist Joey Heins: “It was just pure joy. I was trying to stop myself from laughing but I just couldn’t.”

The four-man band received an average score of 93 out of 100 from judges and got nearly half of the audience votes. The remaining three bands—Cologne, TreeWalker and Carrier—were much closer in their scores, with Cologne taking the runner-up spots thanks to a solid fan base. There were approximately 160 people in attendance, one of the largest Musikarmageddon finale crowds.

Judges’ comments about Rusty Blue brimmed with praise: “Solid. Full of energy. An eclectic mix. You’re on the fast track to amazing things,” from Jim Pennington, guitarist of local band The Collingwood; “Who needs an intro with a start like that? Killer. Catchy, interesting, nostalgic,” from Zach Crouch, lead guitarist of last year’s winners Susquehanna Floods; “Great interaction, amazing energy, fun to watch. I’m an instant fan. Classic but innovative,” from area music mainstay Angela Sheik.

The Wilmington alternative rock band has come a long way since forming in 2014 as Over Ripe Banana. Most members hadn’t even reached high school then.

Between then and now, the original line up has shifted—members left, others switched instruments—and the group now consists of Greg Stanard on rhythm guitar and vocals, Joey Heins on bass, Clayton Milano on lead guitar and Damien Pace on drums. The band name first appeared as the title of a song, which, Heins says in retrospect, was “a pretty bad piece of music, but we needed to get rid of Over Ripe Banana if we had any chance of getting a real show.”

At the time, the group did covers, something remembered by Gayle Dillman of Gable Music Ventures, the local event company that promotes original music and runs events like downtown’s Ladybug Music Festival.

“Every month for six months Joey emailed me,” Dillman says. He also sent videos of the band playing—and growth and improvement were immediately palpable. When Rusty Blue shifted to playing original music, Dillman got them a handful of Gable gigs.

“Each time they got better,” she says. “What Joey demonstrated is something many bands have trouble with: patience, perseverance and persistence. Did I mention that Joey was 14 when he started emailing? Who does that? Usually it’s a parent, not a young teen. We knew there was something there.”

All four members of the band are students at Mount Pleasant High School. Photo Ryan Gorman

Songwriting became Stanard’s job, though over time that role has become more collaborative. Someone will write a chorus or verse, someone else will come in with a riff, and everyone discusses the song’s outcome from there.

The band has released one album, Life’s Good. The Musikarmageddon prize package includes a recording session with TribeSound Records (along with 20 custom band t-shirts from Spaceboy Clothing, a photoshoot with Moonloop Photography, and more) so Heins says they’ll definitely be utilizing that studio time to work on their second album in the near future.

Most of Rusty Blue’s songs are rooted in experience, whether about day-to-day life like bike riding adventures or the more abstract, like dreams. But one thing all the songs have in common is that they’re deeply personal.

“I think that’s what makes them so special,” Heins says.

Band members’ chemistry doesn’t stop with collaborative songwriting.

“Our music is complex and we really try our best to play together,” says Heins. “We never let a musical moment go unrecognized if we can help it and I think we all know where everyone’s moments are. We complement each other.”

In the meantime, finding a band-life balance is no easy task. All members, between the ages of 16 and 17, are juniors or seniors at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington. They also have jobs, so finding time to practice can be challenging, but it’s a priority—as is building friendships.

“All of us hang out all of the time,” says Heins. “We love to listen to music, ride bikes, take walks, explore interesting places, pretty much anything.”

While graduation is around the corner, Heins says the band is excited for their future of playing together. “This is my first chance to pursue music in a big way and I love that I’m getting this chance with my best friends,” he says. “Our shared musical and personal chemistry is what makes continuing as a band worthwhile to me.”

Heins says Rusty Blue wants to go on tour soon, which he says seems more feasible now than it did even a month ago. With the adrenaline of the Musikarmageddon win, plus the fact that the band has been expanding its show base beyond Wilmington and Philadelphia, things are looking up.

“Rusty Blue’s evolution is everything that Gable wants as a business,” says Dillman. “We started Gable to provide a platform for all ages. The young men have matured, sharpened their skills and have written some amazing original music. And they are all 16 or 17—kind of reminds me of The Districts.”

Battle of the Bands

Top right clockwise: Carrier, Cologne, TreeWalker and Rusty Blue.

This year’s Musikarmageddon brings together musical veterans, new bands, and long-time pals

Diversity reigns in the 11th annual Musikarmageddon battle of the bands, which features groups Carrier, Cologne, TreeWalker and Rusty Blue. The final face-off for the four bands will be Saturday, Oct. 14, live at the baby grand at 8 p.m. One band will leave as the victor.

Perhaps the most seasoned group to take the stage is Newark-based post-hardcore Carrier, made up of singer/guitarist Jordan Maguire, bassist Chris Heider and drummer Tim Heider. Veteran singer/guitarist Maguire took part in one of the first Musikarmageddon competitions almost a decade ago. Meanwhile, this is the very first competition for Cologne. In fact, the group has only been playing shows since June. That’s not to say they should be underestimated—members of the band all come from different musical backgrounds and tastes, but unite with melodic guitar work, rhythmic bass and drum patterns, sweeping ambient synthesizers and emotional yet catchy vocal melodies.

Their energy reverberates throughout the room, says guitarist Sean Jones. “We feed off the energy of the crowd and want everyone to feel like they can let loose and have a great time,” he says.

Cologne, made up of Jones, Brian Wyatt (bass), Staph Noumbissi (vocals), Jon Crist (drums), and Jon Lee (synth), expects to release their debut EP before the Musikarmageddon finale.

Another Newark-based group, TreeWalker—participants in last year’s competition—is back, bringing a blend of aggressive grooves, seasoned songwriting, and soulful vocals that pair catchy hooks with imaginative storytelling. Says vocalist/guitarist Kirby Moore: “I think one thing we bring to the table is experience. We’ve been in this competition before and we kind of know what to expect this time around. Last year we went into it not really knowing how it was all going to play out.”

Hailing from Wilmington—with all members still in high school—Rusty Blue’s hard rock sound screams “We’re young and we have to be heard,” says bassist Joey Heins. “Our music style brings something youthful and fresh to the competition. We’ve all been in this band for almost three years now and we know that without each other’s support through everything we’ve all been through, we would not be the guys we are today.” In addition to Heins, those “guys” are vocalist and guitarists Gregory Stanard and Clayton Milano, and drummer Damien Pace.

Pam Manocchio, director of community engagement at the Grand, couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s range of styles. “It’s energizing to see and hear the diversity in musical voices that are out there today,” she says. “Whether they are winning this competition or continuing to develop their sound, or getting ready to burst onto the music scene in other ways, they all deserve recognition for creating new music.”

And the bands are the embodiment of friendly competition. Says Heider, Carrier’s bassist: “To us, music is a community and to find out who is ‘the best’ is not something we normally think about. We just hope the competition pushes everyone to give it their all and to play our hearts out. As long as we leave this competition with some new musically-inclined friends we will be happy.”

Visit thegrandwilmington.org/musikarmageddon for tickets.

21 Things to do This Fall

We’ve got your autumnal to-do list covered

The season of corn mazes and pumpkin patches, hayrides and ghost tours is here. Let us help you navigate the options with a few suggestions.

Ride the Castle Trail Along C&D Canal
Between Delaware City and Chesapeake City, Md.
The Branch Canal Trail, which is the section of recreational trail winding through wetlands connecting Delaware City to the Michael Castle Trail, was completed in June after a few years in the making. The approximately 14-mile Castle Trail runs along the canal from Delaware City to Chesapeake City. Just a small portion near Chesapeake City is left to be paved, and should be completed any day. In the meantime, that section is easily cycled on a mountain bike. Closer to Chesapeake City, the trail is varied in terrain with a few challenging hills and wildflower-filled meadows, while it’s a smooth ride in the direction of Delaware City.

Fort Delaware Ghost Tours
Pea Patch Island, Delaware City
Various October dates
destateparks.com/ghost
Join the Diamond State Ghost Investigators and park staff for three-hour (6:30-9:30 p.m.) recreational paranormal investigations each Friday and Saturday this month. Be part of an actual paranormal investigation using electronic magnetic field detectors, data recorders and other techniques. Tickets are $40 per person, but Saturday, Oct. 29, is for hardcore ghost hunters only, from 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Tickets are $100.

topiaryNightscape at
Longwood Gardens
1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, Pa.
Now-Oct. 29; 8-11 p.m.
longwoodgardens.org
Back after a successful show last year, the light and sound experience by Philadelphia’s Klip Collective is back for nighttime adventure across a magical landscape transformed by light, movement, color and original music. The expansive gardens are a backdrop for new music, new displays and a heightened cohesive experience.

U-Pick at Milburn Orchards
1495 Appleton Rd., Elkton, Md.
Various dates now-Oct. 30
milburnorchards.com
Family-owned and operated since 1902, Milburn Orchards is a local mainstay for families to gather handpicked peaches, cherries, apples, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, nectarines, plums, and of course, pumpkins. U-Pick Apple, Berry & Grape Adventures are Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For additional hours see the website.

Corn Maze at Ramsey’s Farm
330 Ramsey Rd., Wilmington
Various dates now-November
ramseysfarm.com
Travel around the world at Ramsey’s Farm’s eight-acre corn maze representing each continent, emphasizing the international importance agriculture. It’s open weekends 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Nov. 1; for other dates and times, visit the website. Meanwhile, the pumpkin field is 10-12 acres of gourdy bliss, yielding approximately 20,000 pumpkins each season.

Coverdale Farm Preserve Adventures
543 Way Rd., Greenville
Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; additional dates on website
delawarenaturesociety.org
Coverdale Farm Preserve, a working farm that hosts farming, gardening and cooking classes and camps, is a definite autumnal destination. Self- and staff-guided tours, U-Pick fields of flowers, herbs and vegetables, lawn games and more are available. The special theme on Saturday, Oct. 15, is Pumpkin Celebration & Hayrides.

Brandywine Village Riverfest
Brandywine Village, Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 1; 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
oldbrandywinevillage.org/events
The annual event is a fun-filled community day with music, children’s activities (mad science, tennis in the street, mini golf and more), artists and food vendors.

The Inspire Lot Series
215-219 W. 7th St., between Orange & Tatnall, Wilmington
Friday, Oct. 7; 5:30-8 p.m.
creativedistrictwilm.com
The 7th Street Arts Bridge Inspire Lot Series, held during the First Friday Art Loop, features poet and songwriter King Zimm this month. Also enjoy live music by Gable Music Ventures, assorted food trucks, hands-on art activities and more.

dsc_0907Vendemmia at Bellevue
Bellevue State Park,
800 Carr Rd., Wilmington
Sunday, Oct. 9; 2-6 p.m.
societadavinci.org
The region’s biggest celebration of the Italian grape harvest, the da Vinci Society of Delaware’s 13th annual Vendemmia da Vinci, will take over Bellevue State Park. The event includes fine Italian wine, beer and catering by Italian restaurants. Admission is $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

Grainfest 2016
Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen, 270 E. Main St., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 15; 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
grainonmain.com
This will be a fall celebration of craft beer and live music, featuring five bands on Grain’s new outdoor stage in the back lot, providing the perfect backdrop for the new beer garden, featuring more than 15 breweries and two food trucks. Chef Bill will be cooking up something special for the day. There will be kids’ activities as well.

Delaware Wine & Beer Festival
Delaware State Fairgrounds, 18500 S. DuPont Highway, Harrington
Saturday, Oct. 15; noon-5 p.m.
delawarewineandbeerfestival.com
The 7th annual festival features national acts Sam Grow and the Dueling Pianos. Local and regional wines, beers and spirits will be available. Painted Stave, Evolution Brewing, Bellefonte Brewing Co., and Dogfish are just a few.

Musikarmageddon Finale
the baby grand, 818 N Market St., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 15; 8-11 p.m.
outandaboutnow.com/musikarmageddon
Who will be champion of the area’s biggest battle of the bands? Arden Kind, Hoochi Coochi, The Susquehanna Floods and TreeWalker are the finalists for the Musikarmageddon X showdown.

Delaware Splatter Dash
Oberod Estate, 400 Burnt Mill Rd., Wilmington
Sunday, Oct. 16; 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
cffde.org
Benefitting Children & Families First, this fundraiser is for anyone who wants to walk, jog or run for a cause – and plow through seven color stations to get splattered by non-toxic, biodegradable powder en route to the finish line. The course covers 1.5 miles of off-road grass trails through trees, with a few inclines, but nothing difficult.

Pirate FlagHeavy Seas Party
Kalmar Nyckel & Riverfront
Dravo Plaza, Wilmington
Thursday, Oct. 20; 5-8 p.m.
Hosted by O&A, the Heavy Seas Party on the Riverfront includes tours on the Kalmar Nyckel (5-6:15 p.m.) and live music on the Riverfront with beers from Heavy Seas. This will be a fundraiser for the Delaware Children’s Museum. Featuring fresh pours of the Pounder Pils, Loose Cannon IPA, and the Partner Ships Terrapin Rye Wit, the event includes appetizers and live music by the Brad Newsom Trio (6-8 p.m.). Those 21 and older are welcome, and tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door.

The Ultimate Tailgate
Sheraton Wilmington South
365 Airport Rd., New Castle
Thursday, Oct. 20; 6-9 p.m.
mealsonwheelsde.org/ultimate-tailgate
The event will feature the best of area restaurants serving unique interpretations of tailgate food. This sophisticated yet casual event also will feature wine, spirits and a beer garden curated by 2SP Brewing Company. VIP admission is at 5:30 p.m.

I Want My CTC
– A Tribute to the ‘80s
World Cafe Live at The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 22; 7 p.m.
worldcafelive.com
Joe Trainor assembles some of the area’s finest musicians and City Theater gathers some of its finest singers, traveling back in time to when video ruled the airways. Focusing on the golden age of MTV, this production brings some of the enduring ‘80s classics live to the stage for just one night. Tickets start at $20.

Halloween Blue Jean Ball
222 Lake Dr., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 22; 6:30-10:30 p.m.
fbdbluejeanball.org
This year’s event will take place at the Food Bank of Delaware’s new Newark building. To help combat hunger in the state of Delaware, the Food Bank is holding its 11th annual event, complete with a seasonal Halloween theme—come dressed in a costume or casual blue jeans (there will be a costume contest). A small plate menu prepared by students from the Food Bank’s Culinary School will be featured, led by the team at Iron Hill Brewery (also the presenting sponsor). Tickets are $75.

Beers & Gears at Delaware Park
777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 22; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
delawarepark.com
Rev your engines for this annual seasonal favorite for area car enthusiasts. It’s open to all years, makes and models for participants, and of course, anyone is welcome to stroll through the colorful rows of sheet metal, chrome ad steel. Rain date is Oct. 23, rain or shine, and trophies will be awarded in all categories (rat rods, muscles, exotics, hot rods, tuners, pro street, classics, imports, and trucks). Rolling Revolution food trucks will be around for lunch and dinner.

DTC’s Wine Feast and Auction
Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington
Friday, Oct. 28; 6-9:30 p.m.
delawaretheatre.org/winefeast
Wine lovers rejoice! The Delaware Theatre Company announces the return of the successful Wine Feast and Auction for another year. Enjoy a night of tastes from local restaurants like Caffé Gelato, Harry’s Hospitality Group and Domaine Hudson, and wine from purveyors like Branmar Wine and Spirits, Collier’s of Centreville and Frank’s wine at this intimate evening of philanthropy at the Delaware Art Museum. Beer will also be available from Dogfish Head and other breweries. All proceeds benefit the artistic, education and community engagement programming of the Delaware Theatre Company. Tickets range from $75-$250.

37th Annual Halloween Loop
Various Wilmington venues
Saturday, Oct. 29; 8 p.m.
outandaboutnow.com/halloween-loop
The Halloween Loop is a citywide party in which club patrons pay a one-time cover charge of $10 to visit more than a dozen nightspots throughout Wilmington. It (almost) goes without mentioning: wear a costume! Buses start running at 8 p.m., and stop their regular routes at 12:45 a.m. with last-visit stops at 1 a.m.

Auburn Heights Fun
3000 Creek Rd., Yorklyn
Various dates
auburnheights.org
During Steamin’ Days at Auburn Heights, visitors can climb into antique automobiles or board a train to experience what it was like to travel at the turn of the 20th century. Guests can also tour the magnificent 1897 mansion that was home to three generations of the Marshall family. Steamin’ Days this fall are Oct. 2 and Nov. 6, plus Steamin’ Halloween on Oct. 30 and Steamin’ Thanksgiving on Nov. 26. Other events take place throughout the month.