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MORE THAN ME, MORE THAN ROCK

You may have seen these guys before. They've starred in musicals, jazz ensembles, wind ensembles and/or top-notch choruses. They've led their class, led their team, led their section. Now they're drawing crowds to their gigs.

Who are they? More Than Me, a new band with a new sound.

Ryan Doyle, lead vocals and guitar, is a senior at Williamsville North and adds the punk feel to the music. Justin Rizzo, on bass and backup vocals, is a junior at Kenmore East, and throws Beatles-influenced rock into the mix. Joe Nicastro, on lead guitar, is a senior at Williamsville North and illuminates the music with notes of jazz and blues. Last but not least, Todd Doyle, on percussion, a graduate of Williamsville North, incorporates an assortment of rhythms to the sound.

It's difficult to label their music. The group classifies it as "hip acoustic with a twist," with an "acoustic rock feel" and a "touch of modern alternative sound." From punk and ska to reggae to ballads to dance tunes, with skat, a capella and unique solos, each song is distinct. Their music has catchy choruses, and uplifting beats. As Ryan says, "When people see us, they have a good time . . . it puts a smile on their face."

The guys of More Than Me are skilled musicians and vocalists. Joe Nicastro has been playing guitar since he was five years old, studying with Ralph Fava of the Lockport Music Center. Joe is also a member of top choruses at North, played guitar in Jazz Ensemble and the musical pit, and has sung and acted in the school musical. Joe is also a painter, in Mock Trial and works at Wegmans. Justin Rizzo sings in the top choral group at his school and plays drums for the jazz band. He's president of his class and has a job as a paper carrier. Todd Doyle played first chair french horn in high school and sang the lead in the school musical as a senior. He is currently working. Ryan Doyle sings with Joe in the top choruses, has sung in school musicals and plays percussion, piano and trombone in addition to guitar. He also plays volleyball and basketball and works at Manhattan Bagel.

While most kids their age are sleeping, More Than Me is awake and practicing. The group meets every Saturday morning to practice, usually for three to four hours. Ryan (who is taking AP Music Theory with Louis Shafer) writes most of the music.

More Than Me has played at Clarence Coffee House, Higher Grounds, Showplace Theater and Backstage Pub. They play about two gigs a month. You can see them at their CD release party Friday at Ground Zero, 5565 Transit Road (corner of Klein Road). It begins at 7 p.m., and it's a free show. The CD will be sold at local music stores.

More Than Me won't bite the dust when its members leave high school. All say they intend to keep the band together during college or whatever the future holds.

What is the driving force behind their persistence? Ryan Doyle answers, "Music is life. It's everything."

Laura Rubin is a junior at Williamsville North.

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