What do you get when you take five teens and put them together in a room with more instruments than you can count? Well in some cases it could result in broken guitars and broken eardrums, but in our case, we get ‘barely Know her’.
OHS seniors Austin Sharpe and Chava DiMaio along with juniors John Bologna, Joe Sammartano and Paul Cirillo make up the alternative band. They don’t have set roles in bKh because each of them wear so many hats, but they do have their fortes. They incorporate your typical lead and rhythm guitar (Sharpe, DiMaio, Cirillo), bass (DiMaio, Cirillo), drums (Bologna), keyboard (Sammartano) and lead vocals (Sharpe). But because they aren’t your typical teenage band they also include five part harmonies, ukulele, alto and tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, glockenspiel and even use an octapad and synth to create beats you can’t help but dance to. Their influences are major alternative bands such as ‘twenty one pilots’, ‘The 1975’, ‘The Front Bottoms’ and ‘Walk the Moon’. You can never leave a gig without hearing something new. Though you can expect a mix of alternative, rock, R&B and soul, along with acoustic songs that make your heart warm.
Their first performance ever was OHS Battle Of The Bands in 2015. They didn’t win but when they reemerged on the same stage in 2016 they wowed the judges and landed first place. After that they performed at local cafes and the open-mic-night known as Coffee House, run by our very own Literary Magazine. One of their original songs they debuted that night was ‘Coffee House’ naming it after the occasion. Their most popular song ‘Kites’ was also released and is now memorized by the ‘bKh Nation’. Flash forward and they’ve produced at least ten songs written by DiMaio, recording six them on their demo along with a cover of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’.
The real treasure that comes from this band is David Sharpe, Austin’s father. He essentially manages the band. He does everything, such as setting up their equipment and even creating a magnificent light show during some performances or driving them in the ‘band van’ to all their gigs. bKh has performed all over the island in places like The Coffee Nut Cafe in Long Beach, both Revolution and Amityville Music Hall in Amityville and The Bitter End in NYC. If you’re looking for something more local you can find them at the Oceanside Library and our own OHS stage. One of their biggest accomplishments was coming in first place in “Battle Of The Teen Bands” at Purpl in Hasting on Hudson. They were up against three other amazingly talented bands, performing in front of a panel of professionals as judges. They rocked out and just had an amazing time doing what they love. The reward was a professional recording of an original song, which is rumored to be released soon. If you can’t wait till then, you can buy their demo on Bandcamp, though it doesn’t truly capture their talent.
The band was kind enough to give me a few words on how music has affected them. Sammartano says “barely Know her has helped me express who I am and allows me to expand my horizons as a musician… and I get to do it with incredible people whom I’m lucky enough to be friends with.” DiMaio, their emotive writer states, “The band gave me an outlet for the catharsis I couldn’t speak about.” Most people remember how music affects them as a listener, but what we don’t think about is the people who so passionately create the music that stirs our deeper emotional beings. “The sound of the chords or the arrangements I create or play make me feel alive. It gives me the freedom to channel my passion for music” expresses Sharpe. He, like the other members of the band, is so heavily invested in bKh. Bologna described to me what he took from this band, or really this family that they’ve created. “Music was my outlet for all the bad things I’ve faced in life, and when I was invited into the band I had no idea that when going into it, I was making the best decision of my life.” They all expressed immense gratitude and love for what became of Sharpe just wanting to cover ‘The 1975’ with a few of his friends.
If you compare their talent in December of 2014 when they formed to current day, they have grown drastically in style, talent and even looks. Cirillo commented “With this band came a whirlwind of experience… we are able to create our own music, make our own style.” That’s not something many teens get to say they’ve done. This five has created a huge group of people who all love the same things. Each other and music. The vibes of their shows radiate passion and love.
Whether or not you enjoy alternative music you can’t help but have fun at bKh concerts. Their energy on stage and how well they interact with the audience is something a professional would envy. Their audience ranges from two to ninety two so if that doesn’t tell you how much people like them, go to their next show and see how their fans go crazy from the second they get on stage till their final bow. Which typically comes after a highly demanded encore.
We don’t know what the future holds for ‘barely Know her’, but it’s pretty obvious each and every one of the are headed somewhere great. Austin, Chava, John, Paul and Joe are just five high schoolers who turned their passion and dreams into reality. They’ve dedicated so much to this band and they’ll assure you, every second spent with each other, every practice and nerve racking performance, was worth it.
Follow for updates and upcoming shows @officialbKh