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Don’t Mess with Marston

Potomac Youth of the Year

Alex Marston doesn’t let success go to his head, even though people have stopped him in the street and asked him for autographs or to pose for a picture.

Not that any of that happens here — not yet, anyway. This happened in Germany, where Marston’s rock band, Another Fine Mess, played in the Pinneberg Summer Jazz Festival. The day after Marston and his bandmates played a three-hour set, people recognized him and gave him the rock-star treatment.

“It was an amazing experience, because that’s definitely never happened to us here before,” Marston said.

MARSTON WAS NAMED Potomac’s Youth of the Year by the Potomac Chamber of Commerce last week. The award was a surprise to Marston, a senior at Thomas Wootton High School, who didn’t even know he’d been nominated.

Lynn Goodman, a counselor at Wootton, nominated Marston for the honor. Previously a counselor at Robert Frost Middle School, Goodman has known Marston for more than six years. “He gives back, and it’s nice to see somebody with all those abilities used in a positive way,” Goodman said.

Marston plays drums in Another Fine Mess, which began when Marston was in seventh grade, and quickly settled into its current lineup of Marston, Matt Mooney (guitar and vocals), Mike Hoy (bass) and Ryan Ford (guitar). “They’re my best friends, and we have a lot of fun with it,” Marston said.

Another Fine Mess plays the occasional cover tune, but most of its songs are original, pop-punk style songs. “We’re deeply influenced by the Beatles, but what band isn’t?” said Marston, who is also the band’s primary lyricist. One of the band’s Web sites describes their sound as falling “somewhere between The Beatles, Vanilla Ice, and the great Norwegian Death Metal bands of the late 1930s.”

The German concert was more than a year in the making, and happened through Rockville’s sister city program. The band members raised funds for the trip in the preceding year, and stayed with a German host family. At the festival, which drew 60,000 people, Another Fine Mess played two shows, the second on a Saturday night that nearly exhausted their musical inventory. “We played for three hours, and they called us back for two encores,” Marston said.

Locally, the band has played in venues like Nation and the Grog and Tankard in Washington, D.C.

EACH MORNING, Wootton students are reminded to “Walk Wise, Drive Wise.” Marston and the band members of Another Fine Mess did their part to relay that message to the community. Their friend and Wootton classmate Solomon King was struck and killed by a car while he was walking down Travilah Road last November. The driver of the car that killed King still has not been identified.

Marston and Another Fine Mess use the band as a catalyst for community service. They filmed a pedestrian safety video that played at the Rockville Regal Cinemas last summer. Marston is also organizing Rock for A Remedy, a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society that is scheduled for April 2006.

Last summer, Marston went to Ecuador and volunteered in a home for the elderly as part of the Experiment in International Living Project. “In Ecuador, the way the culture is, they don’t put people in homes like this unless they definitely needed it,” Marston said.

One woman residing in the home told Marston she was lost and didn’t even know where she was or who she was, but she believed that she had a car at the home, and asked Marston to get her car and drive her away from there.

MARSTON STUDIED through Richard Montgomery High School’s International Baccalaureate program in his freshman year. He transferred to Wootton before his sophomore year because he wanted to be back among the students in his home school district, and participate in Wootton’s extracurricular activities.

“It has given him the opportunity to pursue all of his interests,” Goodman said.

Marston auditioned for “Arsenic and Old Lace,” the fall play during his sophomore years. He was cast as a woman (his band members haven’t forgotten). He’s since performed in “Seussical,” “The Odd Couple,” and will play the lead role in “Flowers for Algernon” next month.

Performing as a musician, provides a similar rush to performing as an actor, Marston said. “There’s definitely the excitement of being on stage for both.”

Marston remains happy with his decision to return to his home school district and attend Wootton. “There’s a lot of freedom to choose what electives you want to take, and there’s a lot of opportunities to find your niche and get involved in different activities,” Marston said about Wootton.