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Valrico band goes from garage to real gigs

On this rainy night, Valrico's newest rock band plays to a unique crowd.

Three boogie boards are front and center, with a screen door peering over them to catch a glimpse of the stars. To the right, old tennis shoes and ant killer have grabbed floor seats.

The only disapproving fan appears to be an old television, silent and broken beyond repair.

But what does it know?

Up in the balcony a bee kite flitters, while the leaf blower and the fertilizer revel over having backstage passes. A red bike reminiscent of Pee-Wee Herman's famed two-wheeler begins to scream, "Freebird, Freebird."

Inanimate garage items always transform into adoring fans whenever these dreamers flip the switch on their amplifiers and rev up their rock and roll fantasies.

Tonight, all that changes.

At Salute Sports Bar in Riverview, the fearless foursome that met doing community theater steps on a real stage to deliver real rock to real people. Kim Sivret, Jody Roberts, Peter B. Sanders and Jess Schubert officially become Mad With Power.

I bet Stephen Sondheim never realized a local production of his gruesome Sweeney Todd could yield a pop/rock quartet that plays everything from Janet Jackson and Def Leppard to Melissa Etheridge and Maroon 5.

"It feels a little surreal," said Schubert, the bass player. "I thought we would jam for a little bit and all go do our own thing. I still can't believe we're going to be performing.

"It's very surreal."

Surreal and serendipitous. Roberts, who has played in a number of bands, simply invited Schubert over for a jam session when he discovered she played bass. Sivret and Sanders, who both had lead roles in the Sweeney Todd production, joined in.

They soon discovered they might have the makings of something more than an impromptu jam session with Sivret and Sanders offering harmonizing vocals over Schubert's bass and Roberts' guitar.

In January, they started rehearsing toward the goal of evolving into a real band.

"Somewhere around February, things started to smooth out," said Roberts, a self-professed builder of bands who thought he had forgone bars for playhouse theaters. "It's even better than I dreamed it would be."

• • •

Dreams and passion drive all four members. Sivret, a receptionist for Healthy Start and a youthful 45, traces her roots back to singing old country tunes like Harper Valley P.T.A. as a 6-year-old.

Roberts, 39, easily recalls pleading with his mother as a tyke to buy Queen's We Are The Champions. He took up the guitar at 17. A software programmer, Roberts routinely plays and programs the group's automated drum machine.

Schubert, 27, and Sanders, 28, both come from musical families.

Jess Schubert's father wrote a song the day she was born. But he didn't stop there. A longtime music minister, he also created a nonprofit, Instruments Of Change, to help get instruments into the hands of disadvantaged kids.

Schubert, who works as a makeup artist, picked up bass guitar along the way and played at the church currently known as the Crossing.

Sanders is the son of a music teacher and professional violinist. By day, he works in administration at Hawthorne Village and at night goes to rock 'n' roll heaven.

"I have a bucket list, and leading up a rock band has always been on it," Sanders said.

And really, who hasn't held that dream? Who hasn't grabbed a hairbrush, pretended it was a microphone and started rocking the lyrics to their favorite song?

Raise your hand if you ever turned a broom into a six-string and magically morphed into a guitar hero long before the video game hit shelves. That's what I thought.

What makes Mad With Power members special is that they're living that dream. Whether they become regulars on the local scene or simply fade away after a few gigs — they also play the Hi Life in Valrico on May 8 — doesn't matter.

They will always have tonight. They take the stage at 9.

Besides, they already have their first hit. Schubert and Sanders got engaged two months ago.

That's all I'm saying.

Valrico band goes from garage to real gigs 04/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:47pm]
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