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Sewickley band's name reflects members' personalities

| Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, 4:09 p.m.
Members of the Sewickley band Priest, Sage, Roots & Soul, from left, Louis Kropf, Jack Marcrum, Jordan Kaye and Alex Jeffe, wear ceremonial garb during a performance at the Independent Mountain Men of America rendezvous in Emlenton, Pa. Submitted photo.

The band's name says it all.

Priest, Sage, Roots & Soul describes the personalities of the four Sewickley teenagers who are members of the band.

Because vocalist Louis Kropf is religious, he is known as the “priest.” He attends church regularly and tries to “walk in the footsteps” as much as he can, he said.

“I think music is the best way to distribute God's word. Once people start to dance, they close their eyes and just let go,” said Kropf, who is a member of the choir at St. Matthews AME Zion Church in Sewickley, where band member Jack Marcrum also plays the drums.

The “sage” is Alex Jeffe, lead guitarist, because he is wise and shares his knowledge, and Jordan Kaye, the bassist, is “soul” because “he has a lot of soul,” Kropf said.

Marcrum is the “roots.”

Kropf said band members use the tree of music as a metaphor with the drummer as the roots holding the tree together; the bassist as the trunk; the lead guitarist as the branches of the tree; and the vocalist as the leaves that provide sustenance to the rest of tree.

Kropf and Marcrum, 17, are seniors at Quaker Valley High School, and Kaye, bassist, 17, is a junior. Jeffe, 18, a 2011 Quaker Valley graduate, is a music major at Duquesne University.

Priest, Sage, Roots & Soul will perform from 6:45 to 8 p.m. Sept. 15 at the 11th annual Fall Music Festival at Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights.

The band began with the name Free Masons and was the idea of Marcrum and Jeffe, who Kropf said are masters of their art and jammed together frequently before starting a band.

Marcrum, who was in chorus with Kropf and thought he was a good singer, suggested Kropf as vocalist. Kaye joined the band later.

“I was reluctant at first, because I had never been in a band. It was exciting for me,” Kropf said.

Their first gig was at the Sewickley Gallery Walk last year. They sang and played in the rain, snow and sleet and made $9 after putting a hat out.

Still, it was worth it, Kropf said.

“I expressed to the band that I was on top on the world. They had done gigs before, so they knew what I was talking about,” he said.

Earlier in the summer, the band competed against eight other groups and won first place in a Battle of the Bands contest held at Rex Theater on East Carson Street.

The band also performed halftime shows at Quaker Valley basketball games; at Quaker Valley Relay for Life; and at Woodland Pool. They recorded a CD that is available for sale.

They also will perform at a new event Rockin' at the Hollow Oct. 13 at Fern Hollow, where local middle school and high school musicians are invited to spend the day performing their music for the community.

At the music festival, the band will play a few of its five original songs that Kropf said members pitched in to write. He said they get their ideas for the songs “just from life,” and they are working on more. They also play Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Red Hot Chili Peppers songs and a variety of other tunes.

Kropf's favorite is an original, upbeat, but sad, reggae song, “Yep, I'm Jolly.”

“I love it, but it's kind of a sad song for being named ‘Yep, I'm Jolly.' I wrote it about a past girlfriend.”

Many times the band also performs impromptu music, he said.

“Sometimes I just make up words on the spot, it's very fun,” he said.

“In the moment,” he said, he might also pick up some bongos, tambourine or harmonica and start to play or break into some ancient Indian dancing. He calls the impromptu playing, singing and dancing his “ceremonies” and calls himself the conductor of ceremonies.

Kropf said he hopes people will smile when they hear the band play at the music festival, where Marcrum has performed before and where Kaye said he always has dreamed of playing.

“We like to start off with something that will blow people away, and end the show with something extravagant,” Kropf said.

Kropf said although music always will be a part of his life, he was inspired to become an electrician after he saw an electrician fix his broken microphone.

As for the band, he said members have agreed to “take it as far as it will go.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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