Queens Band Advances
In Internet Band Competition
By Victoria Hernandez
fledgling band today can be without a MySpace,
the ubiquitous networking Web site, presence to
promote itself. Want to really get your name and
sound out there worldwide? Think competition via
This past May, 879 unsigned and independent artists
from seven countries did just that by entering
their songs in the Next Gretsch Greats Unsigned
Artist Competition. The votes for the first round
of the competition are in, and a local Queens
band, The Refined Gentlemen and Gezele, advanced
to the top 10 finalists with the song, "Ice."
The first prize consists of $15,000 worth of Gretsch
musical equipment, as well as a performance on
stage this November in New York at the Gretsch
125th Anniversary Concert featuring legendary
|The Refined Gentlemen’s John Catania sports a natty look on stage.
were in shock, but this is what we wanted," bass
guitar player John Catania said. "It meant a start
to the future. The excitement is overwhelming."
Formed only six months ago, The Refined Gentlemen
and Gezele perform their own original music along
with classic blues and rock.
The band members have been active in the music
scene for years and found each other via ads on
the internet. Gezele Portwood hails from Flushing
and is a performance artist encompassing Off Broadway
musical theatre, and lead and backing vocals in
many music genres.
John Catania has been playing music since he was
three years old. He started out playing drums
and played in rock and roll bands on Long Island
where he grew up. In 2006, he made the switch
to bass guitar, which for a drummer, was a natural
fit. George Wasek has been playing drums and percussion
since he was 14. He has performed both recording
and session music with many original and cover
projects throughout the years.
|Front woman for the Refined Gentlemen, Gezele Portwood.
David Greatorex was born in Sheffield, England
and got his first guitar at age 11. Inspired by
the great bands of the late 1960s, he began to
play and emulate the great guitarists of the era.
All four members currently live in Queens.
Once the four band members came together, "musically
we clicked," Catania said.
The band was so excited that they "got rid of
everything that was junk and invested in top of
the line equipment. We hear ourselves progressing
and how good the music is sounding. We just want
to make better and better songs," Catania said.
The band currently has more than 1,100 friends
on MySpace. Catania described their entry song
"Ice" as "surfing music." However, he noted many
of the fans are describing it as having an "indie"
They are currently working on recording their
own album at the Hidden Fortress recording studio
in College Point and have their own DVD.
The band's name originated from Catania's love
of old films with the likes of Fred Astaire.
"I liked the old movies with the guys in the top
hats," he said. "I said it kidding around that
yes, we are the refined gentlemen."
The Refined Gentlemen and Gezele plays four sets
of songs during their shows and plan to play in
New York, Long Island and New Jersey in the fall.
"We want to see ourselves fully produced and recording
CDs and playing out live in big concerts and big
venues," Catania said.
The next round of the competition will take place
on Sept. 1 when the finalists will have their
entry songs reviewed by a panel of judges who
will select the grand, first and second prize
"We are out there and ready to do up New York,"
Catania he said.
Check out the band's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/refinedgentlemen.