HINGHAM — As both drummer and lead singer of the Hingham-based rock band called Replay, George Egan hammers out a steady beat while singing original lyrics and cover tunes in the throaty rasp of an experienced musician. Except that he’s only 10 years old.
George’s bandmates include his older brother Charlie, 12, on guitar; their neighbor Aidan Connerly, 11, on keyboard; and their friend Jack Wanty from down the street, who at 13 is the band’s eldest member, also on guitar.
“These guys really rock,” says Sara Leketa, a grown-up musician and a mainstay of the Boston music scene as a solo performer and as frontwoman of the Aerosmith female cover band Aerochix. “Give them a few years, and they’ll take Boston by storm.”
Leketa served on a panel of five judges at the final round of Hard Rock Café Boston’s Youth Battle of the Bands in December. Replay was one of three Boston-area bands to qualify for the final round, in which each was invited to play three songs — including at least one original tune.
Replay’s set kicked off the competition, starting with a hearty interpretation of Green Day’s 1990s alt-rock classic “Brain Stew,” followed by an original hard rock tune, “Run Away.” As the only band of the day to perform two original songs in its set, Replay finished with “Rockstar,” which, with its catchy repetitive lyrics — “I wanna be a rock star” repeated 10 times in a row — is quickly becoming its signature song.
The grand prize at the Hard Rock battle, open to players between 8 and 13, was a four-song recording studio session from Perfection Studios. Although the Angry Toddlers, from the Cambridge area, won the day, beating out the youngsters from Hingham and another band called Scream Theater, Replay stood out to the judges for the quality of their own compositions.
“The originals they performed underscored an understanding of musical concepts that exceeds their ages,” says Boston-area musician and instructor Eric Gaudette, who served as a judge at the Hard Rock. “They bring a great energy to their music. It’s not often you see kids this young who can play like this.”
That youthful energy has been helping Replay drum up a following on the South Shore. Building on momentum from their second-place finish in the Marshfield Fair’s Battle of the Bands last summer — they lost to older teens from Hanover, the Risky Business Band — the boys spent the fall writing music and preparing for their own concert to raise funds for the Hingham Education Foundation.
With more than 200 families at the Nov. 16 event, held at South Shore Country Club, the group was able to raise more than $1,300. Replay moms Julie Egan, Tricia Connerly, and Patricia Wanty spent two days before the concert transforming the country club into a rock venue — hanging lights, arranging decorations and bar tables, as well as setting up a stage. “We tried to make it look authentic for the boys,” Connerly said. “We wanted them to feel like they were getting a true experience playing in front of a crowd.”
Replay came together almost two years ago when the Egan brothers met Jack Wanty at Hobby Night at Foster Elementary School, where all the boys were students at the time. With the addition of neighbor Aidan Connerly on keyboards, the band was complete and has been playing under the tutelage of instructor Joey Zarick ever since.
The concert went so well that Egan was looking for more opportunities when she came across the Hard Rock’s Youth Battle of the Bands, she said. A number of Hingham families showed up at the Hard Rock to cheer them on, includng the Wilmots — whose 10-year-old son, Emmett, has made a project of chronicling Replay through video. His goal is to produce a VH1 “Behind the Music”-style video about the band, he says.
“As their mentor, I’m trying to convey the idea of music as a healing element to their own well-being, even at such a young age,” says Zarick, a Berklee College graduate who is in the indie rock band The Indobox. “The ability to create, perform what you’ve created, and perform that creation in front of a listening audience is an intrinsic outlet that you can’t experience in any other way.”
That’s a good lesson for these otherwise-typical fifth- through seventh-graders, who sandwich Replay’s weekly practice between hockey, lacrosse, and homework. Charlie managed to squeeze in a 7 a.m. hockey game the morning of the Hard Rock contest. Several lacrosse games were played on the day of the preliminary round of last summer’s Marshfield Fair’s Battle of the Bands.
All of Replay’s members had been taking music lessons for a few years by the time they formed the band, and their parents were eager to keep them engaged with music.
“The whole point was to make it a social experience to keep them interested in learning music. I’d always heard that getting them to play with a group would be the best way to do that,” says Julie Egan, mother of George and Charlie. She insists that the goal of Replay is to maintain a social musical outlet, rather than parents pushing their boys into early stardom. Maybe so, but when her son belts out “I wanna be a rock star,” he sounds like he means it.
To see Replay’s blog, photos, and YouTube videos, go to http://replayhingham.blogspot.com/Sara Mason Ader can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.