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It’s OK: Lebanon freshman McGee’s with the band

  • Lebanon High freshman Will McGee (13) looks back at the bench during a break in a Jan. 29, 2020, game with Berlin-Gorham at Campion Rink in West Lebanon, N.H.

  • Lebanon High freshman Will McGee (13) chases after Berlin-Gorham's Griffin Melanson (9) at the Raiders' blue line during an NHIAA boys hockey game at Campion Rink in West Lebanon, N.H., on Jan. 29, 2020.

  • Lebanon High freshman Will McGee performs with his band during a show on Oct. 29, 2019.

  • Lebanon High freshman Will McGee, left, performs with his rock band instructor, Tuck Stocking, during a show on June 15, 2019.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/9/2020 8:47:02 PM
Modified: 5/9/2020 8:51:18 PM

LEBANON — The lead guitar opening to Wolfmother’s Joker and the Thief isn’t for the clumsy of fingers. While the pick hand flicks away at a single string, the neck hand works the frets relentlessly to set a nimble pace, leading to heavy, insistent chords that communicate the power of the song to follow.

Lebanon High freshman Will McGee performs it flawlessly.

His music teachers and his hockey coach — two telling of the 15-year-old’s approach to playing guitar, the third to his attitude toward sports and school — describe a teenager who is all about the detail work. A second-line forward with the Raiders, McGee also has found a comfortable rock ’n’ roll niche in a six-person band, Indulash, as he juggles his athletic and academic responsibilities.

“I think we’re one of the bigger bands, for sure,” McGee said recently in a phone interview. “I guess (the primary thrill) is being able to play music consistently and getting to perform it. You get to show off what you’re working on in a setting with some people watching, and you get to play with people you know.”

McGee has played guitar for about three years. Beginning with private lessons, he’s since added regular instruction through an Etna school, Tuck’s Rock Dojo, which helped put Indulash together and sets the band up for occasional gigs around the Upper Valley.

In non-pandemic times, McGee and his performance partners — keyboardist Tate Whiteberg, drummer Max Solberg, bassist (and Hanover High rower) Daniel Jaccaci, lead singer Hannah Weintraub and guitarist/vocalist Una DiGeorge — would be practicing weekly and performing in area restaurants, fairs, festivals and elsewhere. The band’s shows lean toward classic rock, a favorite genre for all.

“He’s very easy to work with and never puts up a fuss when we go outside of the box,” said Tuck Stocking, the Dojo’s founder and owner. “At the same time, we always invited the kids to take a song and sort of manipulate it. A pop song on the radio is definitely going to be made rockier with the instruments you have in the band. He can take something that was maybe originally like a guitar rock song and make it blues or jazz, and it proves that he can put his own flavor into it.”

Hockey has influenced McGee’s musical tastes. He recalled going to learn-to-skate sessions at Kimball Union Academy when he was little with his father, Dan, whose music gravitated toward rock as well.

“He’d be listening to AC/DC and Metallica,” the younger McGee said. “That’s the music he still likes and what he’s playing.”

Mark Cecchini, owner of Lebanon’s MC Guitar Works, gave McGee his first lesson three years ago, and he continues tutoring him on a weekly basis today. McGee’s willingness to learn and his interest in music theory have impressed Cecchini as much as the teen’s steep playing-ability curve has.

“He’s very driven,” Cecchini said. “As a teacher, sometimes it’s frustrating to see kids with talent who don’t devote themselves. With Will, he has a combination of a pretty good amount of musical talent, and he’s very driven to learn. Very rarely have I met a kid in his age group who was receptive to the higher level of musical instruction I’m giving him now.”

Stocking takes young musicians and unites them with others of similar musical abilities and interests, then works with them in a studio setting to hone their technique. McGee said the area gigs usually involve several of the Rock Dojo’s bands playing six or seven songs they’ve perfected over time. Indulash — a Hungarian word meaning “let’s go” — has been together for about two years, and it shows in the tightness of their act.

“We’ll play at a lot of restaurants like Salt hill or Skinny Pancake,” McGee said. “There’s a place in White River Junction, the Engine Room, that has a big stage with a bar; that’s an ideal to play. We’ll go around to local venues, play for a half-hour or an hour, and other bands will also have time.”

Come winter, McGee must work his rehearsals and lessons around Lebanon hockey practices and games. Having seen him compete in step-up skates prior to high school, Raider coach Jim Damren had no problem inserting McGee into varsity play as a freshman this past season.

McGee assumed a role with Lebanon’s second line, primarily a defensive unit capable of occasional scoring contributions. The soft hands that make McGee a talented guitarist also make for a good passer of the puck, so Damren put the freshman on the point of Lebanon’s first power-play unit as well.

“That wouldn’t surprise me, because he works so hard at hockey,” said Damren when informed of McGee’s guitar acumen. “He works hard in the classroom. Usually the younger kids sit closer to the coaches on the bus, and it’s not unusual for him to be doing his homework on the bus. He’s a very conscientious student.”

Stocking has noticed that trait in his studio, where McGee has absorbed some of the concepts behind his preferred music at an adult level. It’s reached the point where McGee has solidified the guitar intricacies in some of the songs Indulash performs.

“I’ll shoot a riff and the chords that make a song, and he’ll try to figure out the solos and extras that are sort of that professional level,” he said. “That’s the icing on the cake that most kids don’t go after.”

So watch out, Upper Valley. The ice may have melted, but the time may soon come for Will McGee to melt a few faces.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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