Community Center

Members: Danny Benbow, saxophone, clarinet, piano, penny whistle, percussion, vocals; Matt Berlin, drums, glockenspiel, vocals; Brian Loeper, guitar, banjo, accordion, piano, vocals; Kevan Mann, piano, trumpet, guitar, vocals; Zachary Mattix, bass, guitar, vocals; Tracey Shindledecker, violin, cello, melodica, vocals

Who we talked to: Loeper, 25

How did you guys meet/ How long have you been performing together? Some of the members I've been playing with now, I've been playing with for almost 10 years. We met through jazz band and orchestras in high school and then at York

College. There are six core members of our band now. It's nice that we have a whole group of people who are able to read music and (are) interested in a lot of different things. We play in a rock band, but, you know, all of us can at the same time turn around and play classical music and jazz.

So you guys play a lot of instruments? Everyone in our band plays more than one instrument. So, we've got the regular guitar, bass and drums, but then we have full horns. We have saxophone. We have trumpet. We have piano (and) the clarinet. We have accordion. We have cello (and) violin. I feel like I'm going to miss out on a whole bunch of these. When we show up it's an enormous amount of instruments. It really comes from us not wanting to repeat ourselves. We kind of want to be able to play ... a funk song. And then here's a really sad pretty song. And here's a rowdy waltz. It's tough when we go to put an album together. (But) it's the way we think the music should sound.

How do you transport everything? (Laughs) It's a nightmare. We've gone on a couple tours now ... to California and back and that's when it's real tricky. We all hum the theme to "Tetris" when we pack our van because there's really only one way everything can fit. It's a pain to keep everything in tune and transport it ... but it's definitely worth it. If nothing else, you know, people remember us as the band where they have a lot of instruments. With the amount of music that's going on right now, it's very difficult to find a foothold that you can call your own.

How did you come up with the name? I used to work at the Jewish Community Center ... in York. There was a big ... yellow banner out front that said "everyone is welcome." That's kind of how we approach who's in the band. The six core members are kind of an unlikely group of friends. We all have very different interests, and we spend our free time very differently. So, if it wasn't for this band it would probably be pretty unlikely that we would end up ... in the same room together. I think (it's like a) community center attraction that way. This lineup that we have (has been together) close to two years now. We have a very open-door policy for people who can come to play with us.

Are you guys headed into the studio? We put (an album) out last year in March. The whole thing can be heard at community You can hear it for free there and download it for free. Monday ... we're going into the studio again to start our new one. We've been writing it (and) testing it out on the road and I think we have 11 to 12 songs that are really ready to go. Hopefully we'll have that done by June or July.

What did you learn from the first time in the studio? Right as the recession hit, we all decided (to) quit our jobs and go be musicians. We all packed into ... a little four-door Saturn ... and we went on tour for two months. We wrote these songs (on the first album) very quickly ... and then we took it on the road. This one has been more patiently put together, and we spent a lot more time testing songs out.

Why hit the road instead of playing bars around here? I don't necessarily think that going on the road is better than staying in an area and focusing. It's really fun. I wish I had a more professional answer than that. It's more just, "Hey, we're in our 20s. Let's go on a road trip and play music along the way." There's no doubt that all six of us would love to make this our job. But for the meantime ... we continue to have to work real jobs and then do this in the nighttime. We're going to make this as fun as possible.

Like any other local bands? When we started, we thought, "we have to go to these big cities where lots of things are going on." Our little band that nobody's ever heard of can't compete with what's going on at Madison Square Garden. In Utah ... we were about a half hour away from our venue, and, of all things, I managed to run over sheep in a canyon. Our car got towed one way and somebody unbelievably came and picked up three hitchhikers and all (our) gear and drove us to our show. We got stuck in this little place in Logan, Utah. Maybe it's because we didn't have to compete with anything else, but we found this really excellent place there.

Shoutout: York has been particularly excellent to us. They'll put us in a nice restaurant where people are on dates. They'll put us in hole-in-the-wall bars. We cannot be more grateful to how receptive the city is.

- Erin McCracken,
FlipSide staff

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