What began as an innate interest in playing Jewish folk songs grew into a band of seventh-graders from The Davis Academy who do more than just play music. They also give back to the community.
“Friction” includes Carson Wolff on bass, Zach Friedman on drums, Jackson Crim as lead guitarist, and Sammy Effron as vocals and rhythm guitar.
After Effron realized each of the group’s members could play an instrument, he decided to put the band together to perform at each other’s bar mitzvahs. The band’s name was inspired by Davis Academy’s music program “Fusion.” Friction is the opposite of fusion.
The school’s musical director Robert Michek has taught some of the kids for nearly five years. The group describes its music as classic rock, but also performs liturgical Jewish songs. Lead vocalist Effron says one of the things he likes most about performing on stage is being able to play music and do what he loves.
The band performed its first charity concert in January at Darwin’s Burgers and Blues in Sandy Springs as part of Effron’s bar mitzvah project. The performance attracted nearly 100 people and raised $2,200 to benefit the Songs for Kids Foundation. Effron serves as a youth ambassador for the organization. “It’s very special for me to be a part of that because it coincides with my Jewish values and I enjoy giving back,” he said.
The band performed last month for the Ronald McDonald House as part of Carson Wolff’s bar mitzvah project. The proceeds will be donated to the organization.
“The boys did a phenomenal job,” said Ronald McDonald relief manager Cori Mayfield. “It was awesome to see our kids just dancing away and they are still asking about the boys, so it’s pretty cool to see the impact and the smiles that they brought to the kids.” The band is already in touch with the Ronald McDonald House to host another concert.
Friction performed at the Sandy Springs Festival last year and took an award at the Jewish Music Festival’s teen battle of the bands March 2018 at Smith’s Olde Bar.
Wolff says what sets the band apart is its dedication to its craft and helping the community. “Most kids will spend their weekends playing sports with their friends or getting on the computer, but we visit each other’s houses and play music, and if we have an opportunity to give back, why not do so. To me Judaism means my community and family and it is who I connect with.”
When the boys are not busy practicing, they are involved in track and field, play soccer and throw the discus.
“There are so many bands out there that mesh while they are on stage, but once they get off, they don’t even talk to each other,” Michek said. What makes the band unique is the boys’ camraderie, he said. “These guys are friends first, which I think makes them a tight niche.”
Michek says one of the reasons audiences gravitate toward the boys is because they know who they are. “They all have made a dent in the social community at Davis,” he said. “There is already a connection there before they have strummed the first chord or hit the first drum beat.
Their personalities and what they bring to this school as a family and sharing their gift and their passion just comes full circle,” he said.
Wolff began playing the drums before he moved to the bass and saw an opening with the band. Friedman has always been interested in playing the drums.
He said he draws his inspiration from his dad who can play almost any instrument. Crim, on the other hand, wanted to become a guitarist after watching rabbis perform for his family during Shabbat.
Effron says one of his inspirations is Paul McCartney. But before Effron got into classical rock, he enjoyed learning covers of Jewish folk songs. In addition to charity concerts, the band also has performed at different Shabbat services. The group looks forward to writing its own songs and performing more gigs in the fall.
Michek said teaching the boys the same songs his father taught him as a child allows him to spiritually connect with the kids. He noted that the band just consists of four members, but to watch them hype a crowd of 600 kids during a concert is amazing. “It makes me think of Moses leading the Israelites because for 40 days and 40 nights he took them on a journey, and when these four guys are on stage, they take people on a musical journey.”