By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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The band Emblem3 — composed of 15-year-old Keaton Stromberg, his 18-year-old brother, Wesley, and their friend Drew Chadwick — made its way through the tryouts to the show, whose season premiere is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Seattle's KING-5.
Wesley Stromberg — formerly of the Sequim band the American Scholars — moved to Southern California two years ago, and played guitar and sang at many an open-mic night.
Then, when Keaton and Chadwick joined him in Huntington Beach, the three formed a band and landed gigs at some well-known California spots.
“We've played all over Hollywood: the Whisky A Go Go, the Hard Rock Cafe, the House of Blues and, my personal favorite, the Witzend” in Venice Beach, Chadwick said. When the “Talent” tryouts came along, Chadwick had mixed emotions. “We're trying to be recognized as a legitimate band, not just some act.”
Then again, the potential audience is in the millions, said Wesley Stromberg, Emblem3's other singer-guitarist.
Until the show airs, he said, he and his band must stay mum on how they did in the first episode's competition.
“America's Got Talent,” which is about to begin its seventh season, mixes comics, contortionists, impressionists, jugglers and ventriloquists along with singers and dancers. All are angling for the $1 million grand prize.
“The series,” proclaims www.NBC.com/americas-got-talent, “is a true celebration of the American spirit.”
Emblem3 celebrates it, too, blending reggae, hip-hop and jazz in a sound that, as Chadwick said, “we try and keep as fresh and funky as we can.”
He and the Stromberg brothers have added a saxophonist, Kyle Miner, and a percussionist, Kenny Galbraith.
The band is also working on a CD.
While Keaton Stromberg goes to Huntington Beach High School, Wesley has his general educational development, or GED, certificate and is pursuing music as a full-time job.
Chadwick is doing the same, plus working a day job at the local Subway sandwich shop.
Wesley, meanwhile, credits his mother, Laraine Larson, for encouraging her two sons to go after their dream of a career in music.
She moved to Huntington Beach from Sequim last August.
Larson stood in line with the band for many hours at the “America's Got Talent” auditions.
“They were quite fortunate to get chosen,” she said. “Thousands of people showed up.”
On the show, “they had a great experience and a lot of exposure,” she added, though she said she couldn't elaborate on where “Talent” might take Emblem3 from here.
“They're in negotiations for contracts, so I can't really talk about it,” Larson said.
This new life in California is “exciting,” though Larson misses her Sequim friends and family, including Wesley and Keaton's grandparents, Bob and Deonne Hanson.
Wesley added: “Keaton would like to give a shout-out to his friends at Sequim High School.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.