A little help from his friends

Somewhere hidden in the double helix of our DNA is a step in the evolutionary gene that sings, carries an ear for music, and enables the poetry of a song emerge with ease.

On the other hand, it may be practicing 10 hours a day and focus that allows someone to become proficient in voice and instrument. Andrew Rohlk, a local musician who just returned from a House Artist Grant awarded by House Studio in Washington, D.C., confirms both sides of that theory with musically talented parents and practice – a lot of practice.

Daniel Levitin, producer on albums by Blue Öyster Cult, Chris Isaak and Steely Dan to Stevie Wonder, Santana and The Grateful Dead, was quoted as saying, “…Ten thousand hours of practice is required to reach the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert – in anything.”

He said that he started as a band geek, playing a low brass instrument called a Euphonium. He was in jazz band, concert band, and marching band for about seven years. Andrew was given a guitar at age 13 by his mother, Leanne Rohlk.

“I am so proud of him. I can’t believe he has gotten this far [so soon.] He is so talented,” said Mrs. Rohlk, who has been singing in the Sweet Adelines for the last four years and sang to her children while young. Ms. Rohlk also plays piano and is co-owner with Andrew’s dad, Thomas Rohlk, of Old Dominion Animal Clinic in Chester.

Andrew is just returning from a week of a grant program that gives select artists an entire production project, including marketing exposure and consulting sessions, that is needed to succeed in the music business. Six artists were awarded the $100,000 grant and spent time learning the biz at House Studio.  

“My favorite part outside of the recording process was playing an impromptu set in DuPont Circle in the middle of DC,” Andrew said. “It was totally unplanned, but we got a great response and a decent size crowd.”

Andrew, whose musical genre could be compared to John Mayer, which he describes as Introspective Power Pop, writes his own music and has established his own style, which sets him apart from other musicians. He also says he tries to keep his guitar work simple, but likes to use some effects such as delay, wah-wah or even a crazy sitar pedal.

Finding out about the grant online through social media, Rohlk won the grant as a solo artist but had his band, Reason, join him at the last minute. In DC they were filmed and recorded an acoustic session, and had a lot of video taken of them behind the scenes. “The team at House is working with us to promote our music to a wider audience, and we couldn’t be more excited,” he said.

“Strong melodies, clear vocals and crisp vocal harmonies, economical arrangements and prominent guitar riffs is pretty spot on for me,” said Andrew who picked up the “Power Pop” term from Wikipedia.

Andrew attended the leadership specialty center at James High School. He was given the Louie B. Armstrong Award from his school and was in the top five of his class. In addition to playing music, he teaches music at the School of Rock in Short Pump. He attended James Madison University, where he studied Elementary Education/Diversified Studies and graduated in 2012.

“I am truly astonished and proud of how much he has developed into a very talented and accomplished musician,” Thomas Rohlk said.

Attributing his tenacity to his parents, Andrew said his parents had a great influence on him.

“My parents have always been very supportive, but they’ve also taught me to be practical and patient about reaching my goals,” he said. “Persistence and hard work has had a huge influence on my musical progress, and I have them to thank for that.”

Storytelling and musical ability are a good combination.  “I think I got an ear for music more from my mom’s side,” Andrew said. “My dad’s side I think has given me some story-telling abilities that help my songwriting and lyric writing.”

Andrew has an EP (Extended Play) posted on his website titled “Somewhere in Between” that was recorded with local Richmond producer Colin Healy.” The two of us worked on that record for a few months last year,” he said.

The EP they recorded at House Studio has yet to be mixed and mastered, a release date has yet to be announced.

When Andrew Rohlk and Reason get into the studio is uncertain, and Andrew said, what studio will be used is not necessarily important. “We are definitely excited to start playing these songs live, so our next goal is to play as many gigs as possible,” Andrew said. “We don’t have any gigs scheduled right now, since we just added another guitar player and we are trying to get him up to speed with learning all the songs.”

Stay tuned to AndrewRohlk.com for all the latest news and releases. Meanwhile it is possible to hear some of Andrews music on his website. Rohlk’s band consists of  Andrew on guitar and vocals; Bryce Tyndall, bass; David Price-Gibson, drums and percussion; James Swisher, keys and Tyler Delsack, guitar.

Andrew’s mom said, “It is a constant live band at my house at anytime.”

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