Band debuts from the middle school of rock

MIDDLEBURY — The newest act to perform at Middlebury’s 51 Main plays some down-and-dirty rock ’n roll, but let’s just say all three members lead pretty clean lives.
No one in the band drinks or smokes. None of the three has thrown an amp out of a hotel room window. In fact, all of them pretty much have a prescribed bedtime, rehearse at a local church and need to be driven to gigs by their parents.
Meet the One Eyed Jacks: Jake Klemmer, Max Hurley and Max Mayone. All three are 12, hail from Middlebury and are currently seventh-graders at Middlebury Union Middle School.
What began as a series of informal jam sessions a few years ago has grown into a cohesive unit that practices each week and is getting ready to make yet another significant public performance — at 51 Main at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26.
If their mini-concert strikes a positive chord at 51 Main, the trio hopes to accumulate additional concert dates en route to what they hope is something big.
“If things go well, it could be a career path,” Klemmer, lead guitarist and vocals, said.
“It’s nothing I’d ever walk away from,” said Hurley, the band’s drummer.
The three young musicians have all received formal training on their respective instruments and gradually coalesced into a band that has been gaining some nice accolades and exposure. They were part of a local music showcase at the Vergennes Opera House on Jan. 8, and have played shows at Carol’s Hungry Mind. They have also performed at the Town Hall Theater and are a known commodity at their school.
The trio was originally part of a Mary Hogan school septet called the Black Flies. But that larger group gradually fell apart as individual members pursued different interests, or simply couldn’t make enough rehearsals.
That left Klemmer, Hurley and Mayone — who plays bass, fiddle and shares vocals — as a core of serious musicians who decided to strike out on their own. They decided to call themselves One Eyed Jacks — but not until after toying with some other monikers.
“I wanted to call us, ‘Jacob 2 the Max,’ but I didn’t think they’d like that too much,” Klemmer said of an alternative group title that would have played on all their names and given him top billing.
One Eyed Jacks practices faithfully for at least two hours a week at St. Stephen’s Church in Middlebury. They will soon establish a Facebook page.
The band has devised four original tunes — “One Eyed Jam,” “Latino Pump,” “I Miss You,” and an untitled jam session. The majority of their repertoire consists of some good covers by rock icons such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Deep Purple, AC/DC, George Thorogood and The Guess Who.
It was Tom Klemmer, Jacob’s dad, who sent the folks at 51 Main a link to one of the One Eyed Jacks’ performances and asked if they’d be interested in welcoming the group on-stage. The answer was a quick “yes.”
Band members are thrilled.
“We felt we needed a goal to work for… ” Jacob Klemmer said of the 51 Main gig, which will last for about an hour. “We’ve had around five months to practice for this.”
“I play fiddle and bass, and I need somewhere to show off my talents and this is perfect,” Mayone said. “I don’t think I’m ever going to step away from it. I think we have a pretty solid group here.”
Tom Klemmer wouldn’t mind seeing the group make the big-time.
“I’m hoping I can retire early,” he said, with a grin. “I love that they are into music. It’s a great outlet for them.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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