Wendy Orchard’s picture of her sons in middle school seems to foreshadow the future. In the picture, her sons pose with fake instruments constructed out of cardboard, with youthful hope that one day they will be in a band.
Years later, the Orchard boys’ cardboard instruments have been traded for real instruments, and their dream of being in a band has become a reality.
Freshman Brendan Orchard, a music major from Xenia, Ohio, is the lead guitarist for the local rock ’n’ roll band, Warshful.
He said he began playing the guitar in sixth grade when he started taking lessons from a friend. But he first learned to play the saxophone, as his parents encouraged.
“We (my husband and I) required our sons to participate in the school band, because there are parts of the brain that music helps develop,” Wendy Orchard said.
Wendy Orchard is a 1991 graduate of Cedarville. During her time at Cedarville, she was the first female accompanist for an all-male quartet, which is comparable to the current day Heartsong musical groups, and she played flute in the symphonic band under the direction of senior professor of music Mike DiCuirci.
Brendan Orchard’s father, Paul, also plays the drums. Coming from a musical family influenced Brendan Orchard to pursue his musical interests, he said.
“I won my first guitar at King’s Island, and it was not a very nice guitar, but I kept playing and upgrading to nicer guitars (over time),” Brendan Orchard said.
Eventually Brendan Orchard’s love for both the electric and acoustic guitar led him to Warshful.
“The name Warshful comes from a mixture of the words war, harsh and harmful,” Brendan Orchard said. “The name is inspired from the belief that the world is going to beat you down, but you can still rise above it.”
The band began in late 2013 after Brendan Orchard and his younger brother, Ryan, a 17-year-old Xenia High School student, met Wright State University student E Lai Comte, 19, at youth group. Comte became the lead singer for Warshful, and Ryan Orchard reached out to his classmate Caleb Jones, 18.
“I moved to Xenia in fifth grade and met Ryan in middle school,” Jones said. “After that I started hanging out with him and Brendan and playing music together just for fun.”
Brendan Orchard pushed for the band to come together, and the other three agreed – Ryan Orchard as the drummer, Jones as the bass guitarist, Comte as the lead singer, and Brendan Orchard as the lead guitarist.
Wendy Orchard said she and her husband encouraged their sons, but starting Warshful was the Orchard boys’ idea.
“They practice in our basement, and I love being able to listen to them do something they are passionate about,” she said.
Warshful typically practices about once a week for two to three hours. Their first performance was at a birthday party when they could perform only two songs.
Jones said playing music is no longer “just a hobby” for the four. The band now hopes to make performing into a career.
Three years after its start, Warshful has an extended play (EP) featuring four original songs that is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and on the band’s website.
“We perform at any venue we can get,” Brendan Orchard said. “We have performed in the Cincinnati and Columbus area at bars, opened for other bands, (and played at) birthdays and at schools.”
Brendan Orchard said his favorite place to perform is the Underground, a club concert venue in Cincinnati, where a lot of nationally-known acts play. The Underground is also the site where the area’s annual Battle of the Bands contest takes place.
“We participated in Battle of the Bands last year as well, where we placed second,” Brendan Orchard said. “This year I believe the contest started with 47 bands, and we made it to the final round (of four teams).”
Battle of the Bands took place Jan. 16. The voting process for the finals consisted of 60 percent judges’ votes and 40 percent fans’ votes.
Wendy Orchard said, “The fan-based voting played a big role, so to have their friends drive over an hour to watch them perform was important and showed what great friends they have.”
Warshful finished second again this year at the Battle of the Bands contest and left with $1,000.
With each practice, performance and competition, Brendan Orchard said he hopes to one day make his band a full-time career.
“The long-term goal of the band would be to make it our career that is financially stable and would allow us to make great music and travel the world,” he said.
As a parent, Wendy Orchard said she continues to remind Brendan Orchard of the hard work and extra bit of effort it will take to make Warshful stand out and be noticed.
“Brendan is willing to do whatever it takes to be in the music profession, whether that be graduate school, teaching lessons or working in a music store,” Wendy Orchard said. “It does not matter if he is rich. We want him to do what God has gifted him with.”
Follow @WarshfulBand on Twitter and Facebook, or visit www.Warshful.com
Kathryn Sill is a senior journalism major from Wichita, Kansas. She loves Jesus, her niece and food.