HAMBURG — While sophomores at Saint Francis High School, Jacob Smolinski, Gabe LaMarca, Kerrick Woyshner and Coleman Berueffy began playing music in a garage on Martha Street in Hamburg.
The three were already playing together when Berueffy moved here from Maine, where he lived in a place called Casco Bay.
After the introduction of Berueffy, The Cascos came to fruition.
“It came together, the proverbial piece of the puzzle,” Smolinski said.
“Then we ended up forming The Cascos and from then on, we started playing around or whatever, more or less in the garages,” he added. “I started writing a lot. Eventually, we just started practicing more and more and then we started recording an album.”
Under Smolinski’s DIY label, LIPS Records, the album “Garage on Martha” was released in 2012, which led to their song “Calendars” getting playtime on Buffalo radio station WLKK 107.7.
“We ended up getting the attention of buffaBLOG,” he said. BuffaBLOG is a local music news blog based in the city of Buffalo. After the group’s members found themselves in that spotlight, he said they began performing more open mics and were getting offered shows at places such as The 9th Ward (which he said is their favorite place to perform), The Forvm, DIY venues, basements and lawn parties.
However, there is a mutual sentiment among underage musicians making attempts to perform in 21+ venues.
The Cascos got booked to play a show at dive bar Broadway Joe’s, which is located on Main Street in the city of Buffalo.
“We were basically the only one who had the garage rock sort of sound,” Smolinski said. The rest of the performers were Buffalo emo-pop punk.
“All of a sudden, some of our friends start showing up and they’re getting denied entrance at the door,” for being underage. What made it awkward, he said, was that some of them were getting dropped off by their parents after making the Southtown to downtown trek.
“It was turning into this big mess,” he said. So, his mother went and talked to the bouncer and said that the kids would be under her supervision for the night.
“One of the other things we ended up doing was quite a few radio spots,” he said, mentioning their airtime on WBNY-91.3.
While in high school, The Cascos also had difficulty getting booked in the Southtowns.
“The biggest obstacle for us though was nobody really took us seriously, because of our age and that was a huge thing for us to even get past,” Smolinski said.
“We never got anything from [the Southtowns]. We got all the attention downtown. The most depressing thing is we would take publicity packages [to Southtown venues]. So we’d have a bunch of songs on there, all the write-ups we were getting from buffaBLOG and all these other blogs and we’d give them to restaurants.
“We love Hamburg,” he said, but there were not many contemporary performances in the area.
Now that years have passed, The Cascos have been getting some Southtown love. This summer, the band has played at Hamburg Town Beach for Longboards on the Beach summer music sessions.
“It’s kind of crazy thoough, because now people trust us, as a live band,” Smolinski said. “We were never allowed to play in Hamburg because we were like 18- or 17-year-olds.”
The band will also be playing a free show at Ilio DiPaolos Restaurant, where Smolinski works, in Blasdell from 6-8 p.m. It will be the “last official show of the summer,” before the guys head back to their universities in the fall.
Smolinski, who plays guitar and performs vocals, is working toward his communication and personal relations in mass media double major at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Pa. where he has another band called Local Onlys.
“We’ve been playing a lot out there in Philadelphia,” he said. “That’s the current thing, right now.” He also has performed in a side project called Poles and solo project SSC.
Bassist and vocalist LaMarca attends Saint Bonaventure University, Woyshner, drummer for the band, is at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and guitarist Berueffy attends Allegheny College.
Through the assistance of buffaBLOG, The Cascos began developing connections.
“We became really good friends with [Brimstone Blondes and Victory for Poland], honestly, through a lot of serendipity,” he said. “Because of buffaBLOG, I’ve kind of become friends with everyone I’ve idolized.”
The self-described sound of The Cascos, according to Smolinski, is “garage rock/garage pop. I’d say we fall more along the lines of garage pop. Quick, pretty, light songs.” The group, with surf-style influences and melodic styles, falls under the indie-rock, as well.
“I think we kind of did our own thing with it,” he said. “What we do live is better than [“Garage on Martha”], which is nice.”
But listening and playing back songs from high school, he said, “It’s very bizarre. That was our big statement, senior summer we released that.”
Playing out and making music will be difficult for the members while they are back at school, but they plan to reunite again on college breaks. “It’s almost like a nostalgia thing to come back. Nice to play in the Southtowns,” Smolinski said.
What sets The Cascos apart from the rest?
“I really hate the bands that have always taken themselves too seriously. One of the things that honestly sets The Cascos apart is we’ve never taken it too seriously. We’ll have fun while we’re playing a show and do it in a tongue and cheek sort of manner.”
Listen to The Cascos at thecascos.bandcamp.com.