‘Smarr’ hopes to put tiny town, Stratford on the map

Band members receive newfound notoriety after being featured on Gazebo broadcasts

Front+row%3A+Brandon+Firlotte%2C+Walker+Bethune%2C+Will+Tiller%0ABack+row%3A+Kjell+Stevenson%2C+Langley+Fickling%0A

Front row: Brandon Firlotte, Walker Bethune, Will Tiller Back row: Kjell Stevenson, Langley Fickling

Smarr  is a tiny community in Monroe County, about five miles southeast of Forsyth. There’s not much there, except for a church, a water tower and a few buildings.

But if the band that has chosen Smarr for its name has its way, they may one day put it on the map.

The band is made up of five Stratford students — junior Walker Bethune on lead guitar, junior Brandon Firlotte on rhythm guitar, sophomore Kjell Stevenson on bass, junior Langley Fickling on keyboards and triangle and sophomore Will Tiller on drums.

The band, which came together in June, gets its name from the Smarr community, where Will lives. Residents of Smarr, affectionately call themselves “Smartians.’’

“Langley went and took a picture of the water tower,’’ Will said.

“Our goal is to have that as our first album cover,’’ Brandon said.

“Walker is the original person that liked the name,’’ Langley said.

“And we just so happened to find a drummer that lived there,’’ Brandon said.

The band is working on several songs and hopes to release an album in the near future. Smarr got its big break when it was asked to provide the opening and closing music for the Gazebo broadcast and Good Morning, Stratford.

“Yes, they are pretty enthusiastic. They come up to me in the halls loving what they are hearing,’’ WalkeBecause of the publicity on the Gazebo, we’ve had a couple of people  say they want to do whatever they can to be in the band. They don’t even play an instrument.”

— Walker Bethune

Recognition from their classmates and teachers have given band members newfound notoriety.

“Yes, they are pretty enthusiastic. They come up to me in the halls loving what they are hearing,’’ Walker said.  “Because of the publicity on the Gazebo, we’ve had a couple of people  say they want to do whatever they can to be in the band. They don’t even play an instrument.”

“I hear a lot of stuff from teachers,’’ Will said. “My homeroom teacher,Mrs. (Candance) Bridges, asked me about it. “

Another teacher, Mrs. Hollie Wangerin, is a native of Monroe County and is “super enthusiastic” about the band, Kjell said. 

Said Brandon: “Mrs Wangerin lives in Smarr, too, and when I first told her,  ‘Hey, I’m in a band and we’re going to call it ‘Smarr’ she freaked out. She was like, “Oh, is it named after me?’ Which I laughed and responded,  ‘No.’’’

Band members have a variety of musical tastes. Brandon enjoys playing and listening to Heavy metal bands like slipknot, and Punk rock like Sum 41 and Green Day. bass player Kjell Stevenson loves hard rock bands like Van Halen. Walker plays and listens to classic rock and the blues, with bands such as The Almond Brothers, and the Grateful Dead. Langley Fickling loves Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton. Will Tiller loves rap music and older country music like Johnny Cash. 

The band is looking for a lead singer.

 “We are trying to get a singer right now,’’ Walker said. “If anybody can sing and is up for it we would love to hear them try out.”

“That’s the interesting thing we are all so different in our music,’’ Walker said. He said the sound the band is looking for is a “little bit of classic rock, little bit of blues and some heavier stuff.

Said Brandon: “I bring the heavier stuff cause I am a big fan of Slipknot. I am a metal guitar player in a classic rock band.

The band usually practices twice every month at the homes of different band members. 

“But it’s usually my garage in the middle of the day,’’ Brandon said.

“We are a true garage band,’’ Walker said.