Summer Drive shifts into gear

Summer Drive, described as an alternative-funk band, is an up-and-coming local group that has amassed quite the fame.

“We all met at a School of Rock in Oak Park,” says drummer and OPRF senior Todd Kiefer. “We ended up playing a couple shows … and we just kinda went from there.”

However, despite the band’s humble beginnings, they have amassed quite the reputation. Last year, they won the Bitter Jester Music Festival, a midwestern music competition that featured 24 finalists. They are also locally famous, having played at places like Friendly Tap and Val’s Halla.

The band consists of Kiefer on drums, Dante Nottoli, a senior at Fenwick, on bass, recent OPRF graduates Alex Johnson on guitar, Kyle Catrambone on guitar, and Armando Carlo on keys and vocals.

Kiefer describes the band environment as “pretty chill” and said performing is “a good time.” “We goof off sometimes but when we need to we’re very productive. When we’re on stage we kick ass.”

Trevor Toppen, owner of Val’s Halla and fan of Summer Drive, says that he loves them because they are “incredibly musically talented” and are “really great people.”

“They’ve got a great local following. We always have a packed house when they play,” Toppen says.

Toppen says he’s known members of the band for quite a while: “Armando practically grew up in the store and Dante currently co-hosts a monthly open-mic at Vals on the second Sunday of every month.”

Nicolas DeGrazia, founder of Bitter Jester Music Festival, says Summer Drive play like “a singular organism.” DeGrazia also says they “put a lot of work into it.”

He also sung their praises, calling them “professional, fun, [and] lighthearted.” Additionally, DeGrazia remarked on their character. “They’re supportive of their competition … they’re just nice people.”

Due to their victory at Bitter Jester, on June 23rd, they get the opportunity to open for the Steve Miller Band, a group inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2016. However, due to the group’s skill, it is likely they will get more great opportunities. They plan to re-enroll in Bitter Jester, and according to Kiefer: “I don’t think we have any intention of breaking up any time soon.”

Summer Drive will perform at Tough As Nails on June 11.

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