The members of the Port St. Joe Christian rock band Thirty-Three always considered themselves to be a tight-knit group.
Now they’ve welcomed a new member to the family.
Keyboard player Shad Tracy has joined as a full-time member and will be tickling the ivories for the band’s upcoming concerts.
Tracy moved to Gulf County two years ago and is in the eighth grade at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School. He comes to the band well-prepared, having played the piano since age five.
Why the piano when most kids go for drums, guitars or trombones?
“Mom made me,” Tracy joked.
It was that same mother, Gina Tracy, who was in St. Joe music to purchase a saxophone for her youngest son when she and store owner Tom McEniry got to talking about pianos and Tracy’s talents were revealed.
McEniry mentioned that Thirty-Three wanted to add a keyboardist to their lineup and invited Gina and Tracy to attend the band’s next practice.
The remainder of the band is made up of vocalist Brianna Butler, guitarist Zack McFarland, bassist Cole Haddock and drummer Joel Bogaert a group of 11- and 12-year-olds with a passion for music and a strong belief in their faith.
Tracy had seen the other members of the group in passing and knew Haddock from school, but it wasn’t until he attended the band’s rehearsal that everything fell into place and he was invited to join as a member.
“It’s been such a good opportunity for him,” said Gina. “He’s grown musically by playing with a group and gets along well with everyone. We’re very excited!”
Gina has a degree in music and said that Tracy’s younger brother Jacob is also musically inclined. Tracy currently takes piano lessons from Matthew White at Long Avenue Baptist Church.
While Tracy has never performed with a band prior to joining Thirty-Three and will be the first to admit to being nervous, he said he was glad that the keyboard player is usually in the back during the shows.
Thirty-Threeis the result of a six-week project that started with the St. Joe Music and Performance Program, founded in August 2012 by McEniry and area musician and choir director, Phil Densmore.
The goal of the program was to get kids performing together in a band and have them learn and perform three cover songs. By the end of program, the chemistry that formed among band members was too strong to let go.
The band continued to gain traction and popularity in Gulf and Bay counties as they played church services and area events.
Throughout the spring months, the band spent some quality time at RSR Recording Studio where they recorded its first original song, “Jesus Loves You and I Love You Too.” The single was released digitally in June through the popular music service iTunes.
In addition to countless shows at area churches, the group recently played the annual Scallop and Music Festival at George Core Park and are gearing up for the release of a two new original singles in the fall.
Thirty-Three’soriginal songs are penned by local songwriter Doug Roberts, who was brought in to aid the band.
He had written a few Christian-based songs that he taught to the group and was “pleasantly surprised” with how quick they picked up the structures and progressions.
The band is managed by the Joe’s father, David Bogaert, who takes care of the business and booking side of things.
Kids looking to be involved in the St. Joe Music and Performance program can contact McEniry at St. Joe Music for more information. Visit the Thirty-Three band online at www.33band.com.