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Jonathan Plevyak's band to perform at Catonsville High before fireworks on Fourth of July

Jonathan Plevyak spent many summers as a child at his grandparents home in Catonsville celebrating Independence Day. His band, Plevyak, will perform live at Catonsville High before the fireworks at approximately 7:45 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
Jonathan Plevyak spent many summers as a child at his grandparents home in Catonsville celebrating Independence Day. His band, Plevyak, will perform live at Catonsville High before the fireworks at approximately 7:45 p.m. on the Fourth of July. (Submitted photo by Jonathan Plevyak)

When singer and songwriter Jonathan Plevyak takes the stage with his band before the Fourth of July fireworks show at Catonsville High, he will feel right at home.

The band, named Plevyak, are the headline performers.

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They will play at approximately 7:45 p.m. after Never Ending Fall opens the show at 6:45 p.m.

"From my understanding, we play right up until the fireworks and right after we get off the stage, after the last song, they start going off," Plevyak said. "It's going to be really, really cool."

What makes it even more special is Plevyak, 21, spent his adolescent Independence Day holiday's at the Catonsville home of his grandparents, Phyllis, and the late John Plevyak Sr., on S. Rolling Rd., right across from the high school.

"I remember every summer there, and every holiday and stuff, but Fourth of July was always the one that stood out as the most fun," Plevyak said. "I just remember when I was a little kid chilling along the fence watching the fireworks, and now my band is going to play and it's going to be a really, really special time, so I'm incredibly excited about it."

Plevyak writes, sings lead vocals and plays rhythm guitar with the band and also plays base guitar, drums and piano when he performs solo.

In Catonsville, he will share the stage with four band members.

They include lead guitarist Garrett Mabe, drummer Ben Reiff, base guitarist Joe Vincent and saxophone player Zach McKinney.

"I'm truly blessed to be playing with some of the best guys and best musicians in Maryland, so I'm really excited to see where the band will go to next," said Plevyak, who lives in Finksburg.

He hopes when he leaves the stage, the name Plevyak will be as highly-respected to music fans, as it has was to sports fans in the Catonsville area and at Mount St. Joseph High School for 50 years.

Plevyak Sr. who passed away in 2000, was a legendary coach and athletic director at Mount St. Joe.

He started teaching there in 1941 and retired in 1991.

As a baseball and soccer coach for varsity and junior varsity teams, he won 33 total championships, including eight straight varsity Maryland Scholastic Association soccer titles in a row.

He founded the Baltimore Catholic League in basketball and in 1984 was the first athletic director inducted into the Mount St. Joseph Hall of Fame.

The athletic turf field was named Plevyak Field.

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John Plevyak Jr., Jonathan's father, who graduated from Mount St. Joe in 1973, after playing varsity soccer, basketball and baseball, also had an influence on the local sports community.

Plevyak Jr. coached the Mount St. Joe varsity soccer team from 1977 through 1984 and the soccer team won an MSA championship in 1978.

He was also a Catonsville Recreation and Parks director for eight years and he remembers the days lining fields and umpiring little league baseball games at Catonsville High.

"We all grew up in the shadow of Catonsville High, for 35 years, we always had parties on July 4th and he [Jonathan] was part of it," Plevyak Jr. said. "It's like the prodigal son coming back. I am completely stoked that he is coming back there."

Plevyak Jr. went on to coach at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) and Stevenson College.

Jonathan, almost played soccer for him at Stevenson.

"I was actually, for about a year, like 100 percent focused on playing goalie for Stevenson," said Plevyak, who played football for the Gamber Mustangs from the fourth through eighth grades, before attending Winters Mills High.

At the same time he worked with goalie coach Mike Radcliffe between the pipes at Stevenson, he was writing and honing his musical pipes, while getting more gigs.

"I was like, 'what path do I want to take? Do I want to go the traditional college route and play sports for my dad, or do I want to try something that I have never done before that's starting to feel like a passion to me?,' and I went with the music and it's been full steam ahead since, and I don't regret the decision, but I'm still a huge soccer fan."

His dad remembers having a talent show for freshmen at the end of every pre-season at Stevenson University.

A freshman on the soccer team brought in the Guitar Hero video game and impressed Plevyak Jr. and his son, who was there working out.

"This kid was ridiculous," Plevyak Jr. said. "He played that guitar like it was nobody's business. He blew everybody out of the room."

Plevyak Jr. bought his son Guitar Hero and they started playing and practicing together until Jonathan got more serious with real guitars.

"He's never had a guitar lesson in his life. He's taught himself," Plevyak Jr. said.

Plevyak is touring for his second summer and fans have already been treated to shows this year at the CMA Music Awards Festival in Nashville, on June 8, and at Fager's Island in Ocean City, on June 29.

"That [Fagers] was so fun," Plevyak said. "That was one of our favorite shows. It was such a cool venue."

They also have seven more tour dates lined up for the rest of the summer, including one at the Baltimore Soundstage (July 14) and his favorite venue to perform — The 8X10 (Aug. 11) in Federal Hill.

"To me, it feels like the last great rock and roll club in Maryland," Plevyak said. "That is definitely my favorite venue."

He has also played at The Bitter End, in Greenwich Village, N.Y. That club opened in 1954 and has hosted such acts as Paul McCartney, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder.

Plevyak's introduction to music came when he was 15 and his dad took him to an AC/DC concert at the Verizon Center in D.C.

"That was before I started playing or anything and Angus Young is their guitarist and after that show I walked out of there and I was like, 'I want to play guitar,' " Plevyak said.

His dad bought him a guitar for Christmas and his musical affair was born.

Plevyak started writing, but wasn't confident with the sound of his voice at first, but that changed when John Mayer influenced him.

"He [Mayer] kind of opened up my musical world of writing and I really started finding passion in singing and writing and got into a wide range and variety of artists and bands and I decided about two years ago right when I got out of high school that I really wanted to pursue music as a full-time career," Plevyak said.

He started playing acoustic gigs before forming a band.

"We've really been making a name for ourselves around the Maryland area," he said.

His first album, titled "Long Way Home," came out in 2014, and since then he has been putting out singles.

"I listen back and it sounds very young to me in terms of my voice and stuff and it was a lot more kind of folk rock," Plevyak said.

His second album, "From the Heart" will be released in late August and it will showcase his variety of musical tastes.

"I really love taking classic rock influences and blending them in with modern contemporary pop songs," Plevyak said.

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The first song from the album, "Something Real," was released in March.

"That song so far has definitely been our biggest song and I kind of wanted to use that as kind of the new re-branding of the band," he said. 'That was the first song we came out with under Plevyak."

The second song, "Summer" will be released on July 6.

The band plans to record with their producers in Nashville, TN., which he says, "has kind of become my second home the last year and a half."

"It [new album] sounds really great and I don't think, at least I hope, that there are not many bands or artists that have this sound, so I'm very excited to see where it can lead," he said.

With nobody in the band over the age of 21, there are obstacles.

Like the time they were opening for Smash Mouth at the Howard Theatre in Nov. of 2013 when Plevyak was age 17.

"After pulling the van carrying the band around to the loading dock around back for a sound check, some of the band members and Plevyak Jr. had to use the bathroom.

"As I'm coming out of the bathroom, here's the band coming in to use the bathroom and I here this guy going, 'Hey, hey, hey kids, there are no public restrooms here.' And I go, 'no, they are the band,' " Plevyak Jr. recalled with a chuckle.

Since then, Plevyak and the band has matured and made an impression on fans, including his biggest one, his dad.

"He's just a laid-back, cool kid that wants to make it and he's taking these baby steps and he's progressing and he's getting out there," Plevyak Jr. said. "He's got his own radio station on Pandora. I'm just proud of him."

Becoming more business savvy and trying to stand out among a sea of new bands are two of the biggest challenges.

"About a year ago, I started dipping my toes into the business side of it because if you want a sustainable career in this industry, you have to treat your music as a business," Plevyak said. "I would say the hardest thing is that there are so many bands and artists and it's being able to stand out from the rest of the mix."

The band will definitely stand out for friends and family on the Fourth of July and Plevyak Jr. plans to stick around for the fireworks, instead of heading back to his Carroll County home after the Catonsville parade.

"I'm just praying for good weather so that most people can hear him, because they are going to be really impressed at how good these guys are," Plevyak Jr. said.

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