Trouble Clef returns as experienced rockers

Trouble Clef returns to the Tri-C High School Rock Off as veterans.

The band — featuring LaBrae High School students Rory McClellan, lead guitar and vocals; Adam Nottingham, rhythm guitar and vocals; Sam Schmucker, bass and vocals; and Terence Boggs, drums — made its live debut at last year’s Rock Off, held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

“It was really fun for being a first gig,” Nottingham said. “It was a pretty good experience. Everyone there was really nice and I think we all learned a little bit.”

They’ve been playing shows for the last year and hope that experience allows Trouble Clef to make it to the Final Exam.

“We felt we’d grown a lot and just wanted to see where we’d place this year,” Nottingham said.

The group draws from a wide range of classic rock and alternative influences, mixing originals with covers by bands ranging from Thin Lizzy to Nirvana.

Nottingham said the group’s early music also had a heavy metal influence but, “This year it seems we’ve gone way from the metal part. It’s just a classic rock sound mixed with a ’90s alternative or punk sound at times.”

Twelve acts a week for a total of 48 groups will compete for the next four Saturdays. Trouble Clef is part of this Saturday’s opening round. Also selected for the Rock Off from the area is 8 Days Late, which features students from Lakeview and Jefferson Area high schools (the band did not respond to requests for an interview).

The top three bands from each of the four semifinal rounds will compete at the Final Exam on Feb. 17.

The winners will receive $1,000 cash and get to perform at Blossom Music Center as part of the 2018 Vans Warped Tour and at the Rock Hall as part of its Summer in the City concert series. The music department from the winning band’s high school will receive $250.

The second place band will receive $250 with $100 going to their school, and the third place finisher will receive $100. One finalist will be invited to perform at the 2018 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland, and winning bands also will get to perform at special functions in conjunction with the Rock Hall’s 2018 Induction Ceremony, which will be held in Cleveland this year.

Nottingham, McClellan and Boggs all will graduate this spring (Schmucker is a junior), but Nottingham expects the band to survive beyond high school.

“Yes, definitely,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for myself. I’m going into the National Guard, but when I get back, it will still continue.”