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Arlington Teens Make 'Safety Third' Saturday at IOTA

Band consists of Washington-Lee, Yorktown High School students.

Not many 10-year-old olds are enterprising enough to start their own band, let alone stick with it.

But the five guys in Safety Third pulled it off. Now, the band — whose members are all ninth-graders at Washington-Lee and Yorktown high schools — have been playing together for four years and have their first CD under their belt.

"We've all been good friends since elementary school. So we just thought it would be a fun thing to do," said bassist Gabe Westergren, 14. "We just decided to have this band. And it's gone pretty well."

The Arlington-based rock band is one of three local groups — all comprised wholly of local high school students — playing the early show Saturday at IOTA Club & Cafe on Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon. Red Light Distraction and The Oddities round out the afternoon. Ten dollars gets you in the door for the 3 p.m. show.

Safety Third formally came together in 2009.

Lead singer Michael James said the group had a friend whose father played with Jefferson Airplane. They got to watch him warm up for a show, and the idea was born.

"We were kids," said James, also 14. "We really didn't know what we were doing. But eventually we got better and decided to sit down and become a band."

Struggling for a name, the band turned to drummer Eli Hallowell, who had access to a large number of "Safety Third" T-shirts and bumper stickers. The name stuck.

In the past year, the band began playing bigger venues, Westergren said, including Clarendon Day 2012 and their first gig at IOTA this past summer. The band has at least a dozen original tunes, some of which can be heard on their Facebook page, he said.

They had a busy summer. The five also spent a week recording their first album in a friend's home studio.

"It's hard to describe it. I just call it rock," James said of the band's sound. "That's sort of vague now, because there's so many subgenres, but I feel like we just play solid rock."

Westergren said everyone's parents have been supportive of their endeavor.

James said he would definitely consider sticking with music after high school.

"It'd be amazing if I could make a career out of it," he said. "That's always been sort of a dream of mine — to take Safety Third to a professional level."

Lynn Westergren January 09, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Great article. Three of the band members were mentioned by name, Michael James-lead vocals, Gabe Westergren-Bass Guitar, Eli Hallowell-Drums and the two outstanding guitar players of Safety Third are Jack Henry McAllister and Andrew Lewis. Looking forward to the IOTA gig. Thanks Stephen Negrey for supporting our young local talent, thanks S3 teacher/mentor Wes Howard for being awesome.
Jane Scruggs January 09, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Does anyone know if these were the kids practicing on 10th Street in Dominion Hills yesterday afternoon? I was at the playground with my son (the house backs up to it) and I was really impressed!
Michael Swisher January 12, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Cheers to the band members for their creativity and hard work! Cheers to their families for supporting them! Cheers to IOTA for giving them a great gig!

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