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Generation to Generation

Ashburn-based band brings in musicians from 14 to 60 years old.

By late evening, most of the Ashburn Technology Park is deserted. But at 10 p.m., Wednesday, May 30, all of the lights at Minton’s Music are blazing and the sounds of horns and singing can be heard throughout the center.

Moving swiftly from newly-learned song, The Ides of March’s "Vehicle" to the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ "Zoot Suit Riot," the 10-person band gathered in the back of Minton’s music center played as if they were playing a high-profile gig instead of simply wrapping up their weekly rehearsal.

"We all just really love to play," Larry Minton, owner of Minton’s Music and drummer in the band, said.

Wednesday night, the band was working for the first time on "Vehicle," first listening to the song through a couple of times, then trying to play it.

"We really work these songs from scratch," Larry Minton said.

What sets this band apart from others in the area, however, is not the big band-style rock music it plays, but that fact that there are almost 50 years between its oldest and youngest member.

THE BAND, appropriately named, Generations, was the brain child of Larry Minton after sitting in on the drums for a rehearsal of his son Alex Minton’s band, Traction, four months ago.

"Their drummer didn’t show for rehearsal," Larry Minton said, "so I sat in. We had a blast. We just had so much fun. And it gave me an idea."

Following the impromptu rehearsal, Larry Minton called his friend, and former Eagle Ridge Middle School band director, John Ford and pitched him the idea for a band with multiple generations of musicians.

"I thought it was a cool idea," Ford said. "Let’s do it."

In addition to Ford, Larry Minton recruited his son, a singer and trombone player, and his bandmates, Zach Boucher, a guitarist, and Brian Jones, a bassist and eighth-grader at Belmont Ridge Middle school. Alex Minton, a student at Briar Woods High School, got fellow musicians Ryan Esch, a saxophone player, and David Baroody, a trumpet player involved. Stone Bridge High School senior and Minton’s guitar instructor Andrew Imhoff soon joined and the group was rounded out by father and son duo, Mike and Brett Stockman.

"It’s great that my son is in the band," Mike Stockman, a vocalist and keyboardist and music teacher at the St. Theresa School in Ashburn, said. "It affords us the opportunity to play together regularly."

THE CHANCE TO bring together musicians of all different ages provides benefits to both generations.

"They appreciate the experience and at the same time we appreciate the juice," Larry Minton said. "With these guys, they could go all day. They have so much energy."

Working with young musicians is also natural to the three older members of the band, as each have spent years teaching music. At Eagle Ridge Middle School, Ford actually taught most of the younger members of the band, and now playing with them provides him a unique opportunity to expose his former students to different types of music.

"In school you have concert band or jazz band, but something like this just doesn’t happen," he said. "It’s great to show them that this type of music happened."

Baroody, a junior at Briar Woods, said playing in Generations is different than any other group he has played with.

"You get to experience a lot more styles of music," he said.

Jones said he enjoys learning the different genres of music because he never knows what to expect at a rehearsal.

"It gets you more experience with different types of people, too," he said.

FOR EACH OF the young members, playing in Generations has added to their overall skills as a musician and enhanced the way they play with their school bands.

"Your playing improves when you are playing with other musicians because you have to adapt to their styles," Imhoff said.

Boucher said the mellow atmosphere has taught him to relax in his playing and given him the chance to experiment on the guitar.

"It’s really free for improvisation," he said. "You can relax and do more. You learn to let it come naturally."

Both Jones and Baroody said their confidence as musicians has improved since joining Generations.

"There is only one person on each instrument and you have to cover the whole part," Baroody said. "In [school] band you have nine people backing you up."

"It has made me better at reading music," Jones said. "If you get a song you’ve never heard before, you have to know how to work it out."

JUST AS A variety of songs in a repertoire can draw a varied audience, the members of Generations have seen how their eclectic combination of musicians can draw a larger audience.

"The two generations is not just us on stage, but our audience," Mike Stockman said. "The ability to reach two generations at the same time is critical."

But for Larry Minton, while the band is excited to get out and perform, the enjoyment simply comes from the chance to get a bunch of musicians together to play fun and interesting music.

"Every band has something and I guess this is our hook," he said. "I mean, I get to play with my son. How cool is that?"