Student musicians form bands in their spare time

By Emily Gordon-Ross, Staff Writer



Senior Davis Reed and his band Sasquatch Stopwatch came together about three months ago and made their debut performance at the Lawrence High talent show.

“Eli [Mardis] told me, ‘Hey Davis, would you maybe be interested in being in a skaa band?’ and that is how it got started,” Reed said. “I was like ‘Oh yeah, sure.’ He was like, ‘It’s called sasquatch stopwatch.’ and I said ‘Oh heck yeah.’”

Davis describes skaa music as a “conglomeration of jazz, pop, funk.” The band came together through senior Eli Mardis, who is lead guitarist and vocalist. Other instruments are trombone, trumpet, alto saxophone and piano. The group is made up of current students and one former LHS student.

Rehearsal’s take place in the Mardis basement, and typically start with running through sets and practicing songs they already know.

“Then we’ll just play other songs that somebody starts playing, and everybody is such talented musicians in that group, they just begin to play with them and I just give them a beat on the drumset,” said Reed. “So, it’s two hours and maybe 45 minutes of that is us playing the songs that we’re going to be playing, and the rest of it is us just totally jamming. It’s great. Long live the Squash.”


Photo by Elyzebeth Workman



Senior Inez Robinson started their band, LK Ultra, about a year and a half ago in October 2017. They are the only member to attend Lawrence High School.

“Lily Pryor is my bassist, she does online school,” Robinson said. “Aoife Conway is my drummer, and they’re at KU, they’re a freshman. My keyboardist, August Hyde, he goes to Shawnee Mission East.”

LK Ultra came together during a camp called Girls Rock Lawrence, an organization dedicated to help girls and trans youth come together to promote feminism and self-expression through all genres of music.

“It’s…a place where you just get thrown into a random band,” Robinson said. “We got together and we made a song and we found out, ‘Hey, we actually can write stuff and we actually work well together. Let’s just continue it after camp.’ ”

Robinson and the band have been gaining popularity, and have recently been booking two to three gigs a month with bands like Diet Sig and The Regrettes.

“We play very bedroom pop with punk influences, but it’s rudimentary, four-chord music,” Robinson said. “We’re getting a lot of traction right now, this year.”


Photo by Emily Kruse



Sophomore Giovanni Ventello and his band The Arsonists have been together for almost three years.

“This line-up hasn’t been together very long,” said Ventello. “Me and Aden (Smith), the drummer, have been playing together for maybe a year and a half.”

Ventello is the group’s lead guitarist and vocalist, as well as the band’s manager.

“It was my idea to create this new line up,” said Ventello. “I was an original member of the first line-up of this band but it was not the manager or lead at that point.”

The line-up currently includes Clayton Goodall on trumpet and Jackson Ray on piano and accordion. The band is currently looking for a new bass player.

“I had been playing out a lot with other groups and a lot of people had started seeing it and wanting to keep playing with me,” said Ventello. “Aden joined because our old drummer couldn’t make show after show so we were like ‘Hey, we need a new drummer’ Then Jack saw one of our shows and was like ‘Hey, do you need an accordion player?’ and I was like ‘that’s weird but awesome, yeah, definitely.’”