Note: The following is written by Austin Swanson.
As part of Frederick’s Alive @ Five concert series, Misspent Youth, “Maryland’s Top Party Rock Band,” will perform tonight at the Carroll Creek Amphitheater in downtown Frederick. The group, whose members include Dixon Ulmer, Lorenzo Ascoli, John Abrahams, Adam Dresner and Shawn Sandi (who lives in Frederick), has played up and down the East Coast, headlining festivals, charity concerts, corporate events and weddings for over 10 years.
“The genesis of the band was a duo that featured Dixon Ulmer [lead vocals] and Lorenzo Ascoli [lead guitar], and that started off playing small private events, back in 2002,” the band explained recently.
“The name originated as a bit of a joke,” Ascoli said, “when my wife asked me if I was starting a band to relive my misspent youth.”
Ascoli continued to explain that in 2003, the duo added Abrahams on bass, and started playing the Ellicott City area. However, it was not until they brought in Dresner on keyboards and Sandi on drums that they started to broaden their live shows across the area.
Misspent Youth is the only band to be nominated two years in a row — in 2014 and 2015 — for Best Cover Band at the Maryland Music Awards. The band said that in order to stay current with constantly changing music, they are always listening to what’s out there, wondering about how it can fit their band’s style.
“We’ve always been a rock band at our core,” Ascoli said, “but we have added country, funk and even some hip-hop songs to round out the show since there’s so much great music out there.”
When asked what were some of Misspent Youth’s best memories, they said that some of their most memorable moments did not come from the places they have played, but from the artists with whom they have performed. The band has shared the stage with The Wailers, Los Lobos, The Bacon Brothers, and even sax legend Mark Rivera, from Billy Joel’s band.
A few of their members also teamed up with other musicians from Maryland and New Jersey last year to perform at the M3 Rock Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, performing alongside Lynyrd Skynrd, Charlie Daniels and The Outlaws. In addition to Merriweather Post Pavilion, they have also performed at Rams Head On -Stage, and been joined by local and national guests, such as former Gov. Martin O’Malley and Ambassador (and bluesman) Andras Simonyi.
When Misspent Youth performs, they love to see how the crowd is feeling throughout the night, and they are not afraid to change their set list if they feel the crowd wants something different. The band has songs that they play every show because they are classics, such as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Guns N’ Roses’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine” — but they also perform songs by Blake Shelton and CeeLo Green.
“We love seeing the positive reaction and feeling that songs like those bring out in the crowds,” Ascoli said.