Rock the District 2019 Performers
A musical glitter bomb. You’ll most likely find this bubbly blonde igniting the stage with ear candy that tastes more sassy than sweet. She is a musical ambassador for the TJ Martell Foundation and its fight against cancer, as well as a frequent performer for the PGA Tour’s military outreach initiative, Birdies for the Brave. Cali most recently caught the attention of superstar Keith Urban, who signed her to his publishing company, BOOM. Her first single “Party Favor” was in rotation on Radio Disney for an impressive four months and her songs have been featured on Apple Music’s “Breaking Pop” and “Best of the Week” playlists. Cali Rodi will be performing with Ryan Sims (you may also recognize Cali Rodi from Rock the District 1)
“I can’t write a song based on fabricated situations. I have to write about what’s going on with me at that moment.”
That is why the songs of Ryan Sims ring so true. His latest EP, My Side Of The Story, (Hive Records), recounts an actual love gone bad. There’s no glitz or guile here, just rough-edged, hard-hitting songs, fed by a volatile blend of pain and ecstasy, anger and regret.
His first single, “American Things”, spent 25+ weeks during the summer of 2018 climbing up the country radio charts…Billboard-Activator (#57) and Music Row Country Breakout (#41) respectfully.
On his second single from the EP, “Get Away,” which is about to hit country radio coast to coast, Sims gives free rein to these emotions. You know it’s real when he sings “I can’t take this anymore. I gotta get out of town … Rubber on the road will take the pain away. [And] I got a lot of pain.” Not surprisingly — in fact, typically for the way he writes — these lyrics spilled out quickly, as if demanding to be shared.
“I was writing with my producer, Justin Gray, one day when the air conditioning in his studio went out,” he remembers. “The AC tech showed up and Justin left for about 20 minutes. By the time he came back I had finished the chorus and a verse for his song. Over the next hour we wrote the rest of it. The song was almost unintentional; it kind of came out like a sneeze. But I was fresh off some heartbreak, so the feelings were right there and quite painful.”
Sims cut the video for this song shortly afterward. “It was kind of an emotional day because the things they were asking me to do are things I had actually done six weeks prior,” Sims remembers. “The video ended up mirroring my life so closely it’s almost kind of creepy. But as a writer, it was worth it for me to express what really happened.”
From the first notes he strummed, sang and wrote, Sims has seen music as inseparable from emotion. He grew up in Indiana, one of three children raised by a single mother. Money was short; often they subsisted on food provided by their church. Not surprisingly, young Ryan began looking around for something to keep his spirits afloat.
He found it when he was about 3 years old. “I began to feel this strong urge to make music,” he recalls. “I can still remember listening to and understanding music even as a really small child. I understood chord changes and melody at some deep intuitive level. I never dreamed about being a policeman or a fireman or anything other than a musician.”
Sims didn’t act on that urge until age 10, when his mother remarried. Her new husband introduced Ryan to the guitar. When the family moved to Arizona, Ryan held even more tightly to his lifeline. That summer, as a high school junior in a wildly unfamiliar place, he found solace in writing. He performed in local coffee houses; he began booking them shortly after he turned 17. Midway through his senior year he gave up his spot on the football team to sing the lead role in the school musical.
Most important, he remembers, “I realized pretty quickly that being able to play guitar was a fantastic way to meet girls.”
Thoroughly enamored with music and these residual benefits, Sims plunged into performing right after graduation. At 21 he co-founded the band EastonAshe. Their debut album Can I Drive Itdropped in 2006 and quickly sold 10,000 copies without any label affiliation. The Los Angeles Music Awards singled it out as Independent Rock Album Of The Year. The group took first place in the LA Music/Hollywood Fame Awards’ Performer Of The Year category in 2007 and ’08. As the band’s lead singer, Sims earned the Phoenix Music Awards’ Singer/Songwriter Of The Year honors in 2009. His following exploded in 2011 when he was invited to participate in The X Factor.
These two experiences — his band and his run on a popular national reality series — impacted Sims in opposite but complementary ways. “Like me, most of the guys in EastonAshe were completely self-taught,” he observes. “So we had no rulebook to follow. Instead of worrying about whether we were using the right chord structure or whatever, we opened ourselves to endless possibilities in how we expressed ourselves.
“The X Factorwas less about music than about learning the ways of the world,” Sims continues. “It did teach me how to calm myself and perform my best under pressure. But it also helped me understand that I could ever go on television and pretend I’m something I’m not just to win a competition.”
This extended in particular to his writing. “I can only write when I feel strongly about something that’s either really good or really bad that’s happening in my life,” he insists. “I mean, I was writing kind of crass and funny songs when I was 13 or 14 just to make my buddies laugh. But when I started having relationships that meant something to me, that’s when my writing matured. That’s when I started paying serious attention to writers I really liked, not tojust copy them but to understand their processes.”
International touring artist Chad Freeman and his band Redline were founded ten years ago right here in the Phoenix area. Having initially worked with a southern rock and country band for a few years, Chad knew it was time for a new direction. After arriving on the scene as Chad Freeman & Redline, things began quickly happening for the group as they started performing regularly in Las Vegas, played at CMA Fest in Nashville and worked for such events as National Finals Rodeo, Professional Bull Rider Finals, Super Bowl and NASCAR. In the past year Chad has performed in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Poland, France, Germany and Switzerland. Now gearing up for their second decade, Chad and the Redline boys continue performing and entertaining fans everywhere.
OUR 2019 PERFORMERS
Vytriol is new on the scene – recently joining together in early 2019 through the School of Rock in Scottsdale. Anthony and Anthony – the guitarist and drummer – started jamming to some songs they wanted to do on their own for some time, but they were really on the lookout for a rockin’ singer and a bassist. They met Halyn in School of Rock and invited her to be their lead vocalist, who then brought Erin in to join as bassist. They’ve been rockin’ together a lot in the past few months, working to expand their playlist for a number of upcoming performances. Vytriol is ready to bring the house to a new level of energy at the 10th Annual Rock the District.
The Joeys are a young, energetic rock & roll band based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Blending rock & roll with elements of rockabilly, punk and R&B, their sound is fun and infectious. Live shows feature a mix of catchy originals and up-tempo covers from artists ranging from Elvis to Oingo Boingo, but always with a unique spin. The Joeys perform at venues and festivals across the valley and appeared at the Lake Havasu Rockabilly Reunion in February 2019.
Ripcord played their first performance ever on the Rock The District Stage last year. Over the past year, the band has worked hard to add multiple covers and debuted their first original song, “Wake Up”. Ripcord had a lot of fun competing in the 2018 Alice Cooper’s Proof is in the Pudding Music Competition, making it to the Semi-Finals. The band loves performing upbeat, high energy pop/rock songs. Ripcord features Joey Moriarty-lead vocal, DJ Fliegel-drums, Jenna Dougherty-keyboard/vocal, Ana Faustinos-guitar, Peter Amoroso-guitar, special guest Lauren Fliegel-guitar and Owen Penkoff-bass. Rock The District is a special event for the band, and they are very excited to be a part of this year’s music festival!
Carissa Canto, is an 18-year old senior attending her last year at Cactus Shadows High School. Carissa has been singing since age seven and hopes to continues to make videos and perform in the future. In addition to RTD, Carissa’s favorite performances include singing at the rebuilding of the Cactus Shadows track, performing the National Anthem for the local Arizona Red Hawks and Cactus Shadows Football Team, singing at her own Quinceañera, performing at the Carefree Christmas Show, her performance at Shake the Lake, and her performance at the annual Pumpkin Patch. Carissa is excited to perform at her final Rock The District Concert and will remember her amazing experiences throughout her singing career.
Nina Carrozza is a 13 year old singer/songwriter at Sonoran Trails and resides in Cave Creek. She has always been singing, writing music, and playing piano. She loves to perform for people around her and always takes her opportunities. Her dream since she was 5, was to be a superstar, and she is still striving to reach that goal. She loves to sing and play pop, rock, and classics. Her inspirations are Demi Lovato, Leona Lewis, and many more. She is very excited to be part of this year’s Rock the District.
Frostbyte, a hard rock band from Scottsdale, has performed at several festivals and locations around the valley. Each member brings a wide range of experience to the band, including many performances together at School of Rock. Brandon is a member of the Brophy Honor Chorale and has been a part of the Scottsdale Conservatory for the last few years. He enjoys singing and writing music, playing guitar and learning piano in his free time. Danny has been playing guitar for 8 years and loves all types of music from metal and rock to funk and reggae. He is a proud member of the Sugar Skulls, the School of Rock house band. He is a song leader at summer camp and at events here in the valley. Micah has been playing guitar for 5 years and piano for over 8 years. He is a guitar player in the Honors Jazz Band at Brophy College Prep and is a member of Brophy’s Mass Band. Micah is an avid student of progressive metal bands and writes music in his free time. His favorite bands are Dream Theater and Electric Light Orchestra. Nathan has been playing drums for 4 years. He is a percussionist in the Honors Wind Ensemble at Brophy College Prep, was awarded 1st chair in the All State Band in 2016, and was recently placed into the North Central Regional Honor Band. Nathan’s favorite bands are Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Frostbyte is excited to play again at Rock the District 2019.
Tia is an 11 year old singer songwriter who has always loved to sing. She began taking voice lessons when she was only four years old and wrote her first original song and lyrics on the piano at the age of six. Tia then took a liking to the ukulele at 8, which inspired her to write six more original songs that year. After receiving her first acoustic guitar a year later, she dove in to write eight more original songs and learned over 30 covers.
Tia is a natural talent – playing the guitar, ukulele, and piano to complement her vintage-style voice. Her first “gig” was an incredibly lucky one! NBC Little Big Shots with Steve Harvey noticed her youtube channel and invited her to record the show in October 2017. She’s now featured on a sweet folk/country show called Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour in Lexington, KY that will air on National Public Television and American Forces Radio Network several times in 2019. Locally, she is featured on AZTV The Daily Mix show; the city of Wickenburg community stage has had her perform often; and she captured the prize last year as the youngest musician to make it into Alice Cooper’s Proof is in the Pudding competition.
For RTD 10, Tia will share her original song “Stuck on You” which recently earned her the National Kidney of Arizona Talent Slam. She plays monthly at Desert Ridge Marketplace, and volunteers her time to charitable causes such as Foster Family events, Assisted Living, and National Kidney Foundation of AZ campers. Performing live is her passion, and she is thrilled for any and all opportunities to sing!
Ashley Walker has been performing solo around Cave Creek and Phoenix for the past two years. She loves to play guitar and sing covers ranging from John Mayer to the Eagles. Ashley is also the lead singer for House of Noise
Baesix was formed by six talented musicians that sing together in Cave Creek’s LOFT99. All 8th and 9th graders, Maddy Erie, Sloane Taylor, Kyra Wiese, Taylor Friend, Bella Viavattene and Kaitlyn Collman have banded together combining strong harmonies with a passion for storytelling. Each girl also brings instrument experience from piano to ukulele to box drum and guitar. Their love of music began at an early age and they have skills in musical theatre, improv, and composition. They are thankful to have a place to join together and showcase their individual and combined talent.
Deceive Your Mind is an alternative pop punk band consisting of Brandon Kern, Gina Fabbri,and Jacob Nupoff. This band has a ton of energy and will blow your socks off with their approach to rockin’ the stage; playing covers for bands like Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Nirvana, and various pop punk bands. Rock the District will be their first ever show on live stage together. They’ve all been listening to punk and pop punk since they were young ‘uns and plan to write some original music soon. Deceive Your Mind is super pumped and will rock the RTD stage for the 10th Annual!
Halle Abadi has an already impressive resume at 17. Halle has written and released two singles, I W Y and Pandora’s Box with thousands of streams on Spotify.
Halle is also PBS’ talent search, Celebration of Music, Producers’ Choice winner for Arizona and will be taping a nationally televised show this summer in LA. Furthermore, Halle has been the recipient of many vocal scholarships by Upscale Singers throughout her Middle and High school years.
Halle is an avid piano player about to obtain her IB diploma and will be testing for her second degree in TaeKwonDo in April.
Eden Cislo is going to stir your soul. A Junior at Cactus Shadows High School, Eden has a true passion for music and just naturally brings all of herself to the stage. She’s been teaching herself how to sing since she was three, and has played guitar since she was nine. Eden currently leads the youth worship band at her church and plays multiple gigs out in the community. She’s excited to take the stage again for her fourth year performing in Rock the District,as one of our shining star performers.
Hi, I am Garrett Westfall. I am a Freshman at Horizon High School and have been playing guitar and singing for about 4 years now. This year will be my second year playing in Rock the District. In addition to singing and playing the guitar I also play golf and I am working on my Eagle Scout Badge.
Rachel Westfall is a sophomore at Horizon High School. She has loved country music since birth, and singing has always been a big passion of hers. She is in an advanced choir at Horizon and has been playing the guitar for four years. She has been working with Kellin Whitmer to improve her abilities as a country singer and player and looks forward to many more years. Her country idols are singers like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. She is very excited to be performing at Rock the District for her first time.
Elle Sloan, 16, is a sophomore at Horizon High School and a member of their award winning show choir. She discovered her love for singing and performing at the age of 3 and told her mom, “I want to be a singer when I am bigger.” Fast forward 13 years, she’s now working constantly to hone her talents, with her voice and piano teacher, learning the guitar, practicing, recording, auditioning, and performing at multiple local venues and events.
Elle tells us her focus with her music, right now, is to take each and every opportunity that comes her way. With every audition and performance, her time spent preparing is just as important as the outcome. Each day she focuses on the little lessons she’s learning, and is continually striving to do her very best. And it shows!
Elle has a long list of ‘wow’ singing experiences; including singing the national anthem for the World Champion Chicago Cubs spring training, singing the national anthem for President Donald Trump during his run for presidency, a private/live audition for The Voice in Salt Lake City, and a front of the line pass for the fall 2018 American Idol auditions. Elle performs at The Twisted Lizard in Scottsdale, Fresh Barbeque Innovation in Scottsdale, and Elevate Coffee in Norterra. She was recently honored as the only freshman at Horizon High School to receive both a music scholarship and solo in the year end Honors Concert.
Elle tells us, “For me, music is what allows me to make a difference, while doing what I love very most!” She first performed at Rock The District in 2018, and is thrilled to be back to one of her most favorite events!
Meadowlark is two musicians, Olivia Torel, lead vocalist and Jenna Dougherty keyboard/guitar/back-up vocals. The duo began singing together at the age of four, when they met at their Preschool which was located on Meadowlark, hence the name. Over the years they have collaborated on various performances for church, charity, and festivals. Meadowlark performs a mix of Popular and Country songs incorporating dynamic harmonies. These two friends are very excited to perform at Rock the District. Olivia has been trained by vocal coach Jillian Englund and through her AZ Idol Rockstars group she has performed at numerous events including the stages of Desert Ridge, Tempe Market Place, McCormick Ranch neighborhood events, other neighborhood events and Disneyland. She is passionate about music and enjoys the challenge of singing country as well as the latest pop hits. Jenna started piano lessons at the age of 5 and guitar at age 11. Jenna has performed at various venues across the valley. She is currently the keyboard/back up vocalist in the band RIPCORD as well as this duo MEADOWLARK. Their friendship and passion for music shines when they are on stage together.
Trinity Ananyeva totally brings it to the stage! This will be her fourth year performing at Rock the District. She writes a lot of her own music, in addition to bringing her unique sytlistics to favorite covers. She’s been playing guitar for two years now and brings her music to entertain fans at many of our favorite local places like Fatso’s, The Horny Toad, and Big Earls.
Cristina Jo is an 18 year old senior at Cactus Shadows High School and has been part of Rock the District for six years now. She taught herself how to play guitar a few years ago to accompany herself while singing her original songs. Cristina has always found inspiration in Taylor Swift but is always open to trying new genres and finding inspiration in other popular artists. Cristina has big plans for 2019 and plans to take her performing to the next level in order to broaden her exposure and opportunities along with providing teenagers with more music that they can relate to.
Chance McLaughlin is a singer/songwriter from Cave Creek, Arizona. He is an alumni of RTD and has played in the event every year since middle school. As a national artist, Chance has played in many locations like Nashville, Mexico, California and Arizona. His band Homestretch has an EP out and is well known around the Scottsdale/Cave Creek area. Chance is planning to move to Nashville in a year to pursue songwriting further.
A look to the future of country music with a nod to the past, Homestretch is AZ’s up and coming Retro Country Rock band. Excellent musicianship, classic covers, and cutting edge originals place Homestretch among a select group of Arizona bands poised on the verge of an epic breakthrough. Homestretch finished 3rd in Alice Coopers Proof is in the Pudding competition in 2018. Chance, Zippy, Jake, and Spencer hope to make your night amazing.
Divided Minds has an unwavering commitment to create the best music possible and to bring their live audiences closer to the music experience as a whole. Having opened in 2017 for BØRNS in front of a crowd of over 1500 enthusiastic fans, it became quite evident that Divided Minds was creating quite the stir as a band to be noticed. Since ‘Mood Swings’, Divided Minds has continued to grow both in their music and performances. Working with Producer Jon Lundin of Point North, Divided Minds have refocused their style to bring a fresh new sound to the world. With the release of their new singles, Divided Minds’ fans are eager to hear what comes next from this powerful pop trio.
From playing Van’s Warped Tour to an appearance on AZTV and radio stations such as Alt AZ 93.3, then on to playing the infamous Whisky A Go Go and opening for national touring acts, Promise to Myself brings a fun and creative energy to the stage. This 4-piece, alternative pop rock band was home-grown in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2018 they released their first 5-song EP, entitled “One For The Runaways”. PTM shows no signs of stopping!
Melissa Nelson is an avid appreciator of music, nature and collaborative expression. In 2009, Melissa conceived and planted the seeds for a benefit concert in Cave Creek; and with the tireless help of Kristin Nelson, Rock the District was born. Since then Melissa moved to New York City where she now works as a performing and visual artist. Recently seen on stage in the title role in Hamlet at the Access Theater and on screen as Zita in Comedy Central’s The Other Two, Melissa is striving to gain experience across ranging mediums. She is currently collaborating with Phrenes, a democratic theatre cooperative, to stage and produce their first season. Melissa is humbled by and filled with gratitude for the RTD community’s ten years of energy, enthusiasm and inspiration.
SIDZN is an indie electronic pop artist who songwrites and co-produces on all of her own tracks. She grew up in Arizona but now resides in Los Angeles, CA. She’s influenced by a lot of EDM but vocally she has been compared to Tove-Lo, BANKS, and Billie Eillish. She’s an open-hearted girl with a message of self love, mental health awareness and encourages others to accept the person they are and run with it just as she does.
Nelson, also known as Pink Feet, is a dream-pop musician who debuted under the name last spring with the unusual, yet comforting sound of harp (and other strings) with velvet fog vocals on their EP “Some Things Piscean”. (available on Spotify/iTunes) The recording artist and aspiring thereminist now resides in the San Fransisco Bay, working, painting abstract landscapes and writing their next album coming later this year. Pink Feet makes music for daydreamers; those who allow themselves to get lost in a world of thinly veiled biographies, love letters, and soundscapes- all to a tune you can hum. Nelson wishes to thank everyone for their hard work and support of RTD over the years and can’t wait to see the show!