Local Teenagers Band Together for Fun, Fabulous Music By Regina Elling 01.MAR.10
Teenagers” and “band practice” are three words that can easily strike fear into the most tolerant of parents. But they are a welcome combination at Tracy Oberlies’ house, so much so, in fact, that “it’s normal and it’s very comforting and the house just isn’t right without it,” she says.
But, to be fair, these aren’t just any teenagers, it’s not just any band, and it’s certainly not just any house. In this case, two of the teenagers are Tracy’s own — 14-year-old fraternal twins Aja Alycean (pronounced Asia Allison) and Jory. The various band members are “like family,” she says. And for the perfect place to practice, the family built a music room, complete with a stage and sound system.
In a home “where music cranks out of every room in our house,” Oberlies says, “we couldn’t be more blessed. Someone is always singing or writing songs or practicing their music. Their older brother, Rio, 16, plays guitar, even though he is more into sports, such as high school wrestling. And it’s all natural to them — we couldn’t stop them, even if we wanted to.”
Aja, and yes, that’s her real name, has been singing since she could talk. It was at the tender age of two when her mother knew. “When she sang an entire song from one of the children’s shows, right on key, well, I knew she had real, natural talent,” says Oberlies.
“She’s been singing her whole life. Her first show was when she was 5 years old in kindergarten,” she says. With her mother’s encouragement, she “sang her heart out.” And she hasn’t stopped since.
“She sings 24 hours a day. It’s just what she does. We don’t push her to do it or make her. She wants to do it and she has a gift. I just let her do her craft,” she says.
By the age of 6, Aja and Jory were singing harmonies together. At age 9, she was invited to Petco Park, and sang the National Anthem for the Padres. By age 12, Aja won a radio contest and sang in concert with Billy Ray Cyrus. “It was a benefit concert, and when she started singing, it brought down the house,” says Oberlies. “She was so good, Cyrus invited her to the set of a movie he was making and they did an impromptu concert on the set. That was also filmed.”
And it was Cyrus who planted the seed for Aja to start writing music. “She released her first CD, Smack Dab, in 2008. She is now working on her second CD, which isn’t titled yet. She’s written all her own songs for this one,” she adds.
Oberlies describes their music as country rock. “While the first CD was more country with a pop flavor, the new one is more pop with country overtones,” she says.
It was in preparation for the second CD that Aja decided to put together a band. “Aja plays guitar and bass. Her brother Jory is a fantastic drummer and also plays the keyboard. Her bass player, Jon Hasz, is familiar to many in Ramona as co-owner of the Ramona Music Center. Travis Dahl and Lisa Schoberg round out the band. Lisa is from Valley Center, and is the only band member not from Ramona,” says Oberlies.
But the band has more in common than just locality. “Their ages range from 14 to 27, but all their birthdays are within four days of each other,” she says. “They all get along great. And, I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s really like we asked for the perfect group of young adults, and we got them! I’m really their biggest fan.”
This year has seen Aja and the band busier than ever. “They opened for David Archuleta of American Idol last summer and recently for Eve Selis at Anthology. They’ve done tons of fundraisers all over San Diego County, especially if they involve homeless teens. And they have several festivals planned for this spring and summer,” she says.
One of their upcoming appearances will be at the Ramona Music Fest at Dos Picos Park, March 20. The entire family is looking forward to the event.
“I love performing in my own home town. It’s cool looking out in the audience and seeing my friends and family,” Aja says. “And the people of this town are who I get my inspirations to write my songs about!”
Jory also enjoys playing in front of a local crowd. “I like playing in Ramona, because when I get off stage I can hang out with my friends — when we play in Los Angeles or San Diego, I can’t,” he explains. “My best friends are here and they always come out to see us.”
“It’s like a family reunion whenever they play in town,” says Oberlies. “So many people here have known them since they were in preschool. All the support is really cool, and we really love it.”
So the band plays on, with their fan base growing by leaps and bounds and appearances continuing to rack up. It’s a busy lifestyle, with school and other activities that have to be taken care of. But no matter what the future holds, the family wouldn’t have it any other way.
“They will always make music, no matter what else they do, no matter whether they get paid for it or not. Music is in their blood,” says Oberlies. Of one thing she is sure. “They will always, always make music.”
To learn more about Aja and Jory and the rest of the band, visit: ajaalycean.com or myspace.com/ajaalycean. For booking, contact Jentry Management at 619-855-0881. Information about entertainment at the Ramona Music Fest can be found at www.ramonamusicfest.org