Musicians take barn band center stage

Heather Linder and Heather Linder

Brothers Nick and Tony Cifani’s 150-year-old barn is an optical illusion.

Outside, the chipped red structure is dilapidated. As Tony slid open the door to the barn, located behind his house in Bowling Green, he revealed a different image.

Large, mismatched carpet sections covered the floor and walls. Empty egg cartons lined the ceiling. An array of musical instruments, amplifiers and microphones reveal the room’s intended purpose — providing a place to practice music.

Tony on bass, along with Jared Faiella on vocals, Steve Deurlein on drums and Nick on guitar, comprises the musical group Light Weight Slams. For one year, the friends renovated their hidden space to accomodate band practices in any weather or circumstance, including purchasing a jet kerosene heater to keep warm during the winter.

“We had to cover the walls and ceiling to help the acoustics,” Tony said, “and also to dampen the noise. We had neighbors calling the cops.”

The primo practice space serves the musicians well now. But the upgrade has been years in the making, before the band was thought of or the performers were even friends.

Tony and Nick’s love for music started as children.

The Cifanis’ grandparents were professional music teachers for 50 years and taught their grandsons music fundamentals when they were young.

“I could read music before I could read English,” Tony said.

Deurlein began his musical career in high school band and jazz band, though he has been playing drums for 11 years. And Faiella’s training, although less formal, dates back to singing on home videos as a child and always wanting to be a performer.

As the guys met at the University and became friends, they realized they shared many mutual friends and a strong desire to make music.

Before their days as a formal music group, the members spent their time playing cover songs and jamming in Faiella’s basement. It was freestyling lyrics led to the group’s first written song.

“Music was never the intention from the beginning,” Tony said. “It just fell together.”

“Yeah,” Nick added. “I never expected to make it a career, but right now, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

But the journey from aspiring musicians to a full-fledged band has not been easy. The group survived a van exploding, a car catching on fire and tight budgets from college students doubling as starving artists.

“We are pretty frugal, to say the least,” Nick said. “We sacrificed everything we had.”

“Nick sold his motorcycle to buy his guitar,” Tony said. “And student loan money paid for my amps.”

The saving paid off this past December. Light Weight Slams cut their first full-length album outside of Cleveland, titled “Fighting in the Mirror.” They are currently touring around the Midwest, including a show tonight at Howard’s Club H with bands Drenalin and I Phonic.

“Our sound is fairly original,” Deurlein said. “Along the lines of alternative rock but highly influenced by classic rock. I like to call it ‘slam rock.'”

The band considers Howard’s one of its favorite venues to play and promises to bring a strong line up tonight, including a variety of instruments not found in typical rock music. The show starts at 9 p.m. and cover charge is $3 at the door.

After tonight, Light Weight Slams will be recording another album and touring farther south, enjoying each chance to showcase their sound and talent.

“I enjoy my [biology] major,” Nick said. “Right now all my focus is on music.”

“It’s nice to know, though,” Deurlein said, “that you always have a degree to fall back on.”