LONG BEACH, Calif. — As much as Wesley Stromberg, 17, enjoyed growing up in Sequim, the town wasn’t quite the music-industry hotbed he needed to boost his career as a songwriter and singer.
But then, by happenstance, Stromberg crossed paths with Danny Binswanger, the Southern California-based manager of the reggae band Third World, a little over a year ago.
Binswanger is his grandmother Deonne Hanson’s cousin; he heard Stromberg working on his music while over at his grandparents’ home in Sequim.
Impressed, Binswanger arranged for the teenager to meet his friend Mike Neufeld, a music producer.
Neufeld, former lead guitarist with the band Damage, connected Stromberg with Scott Ragotskie, owner of Sound Matrix Studios in Fountain Valley, Calif., and “a deal was struck,” said Karen Griffiths, Stromberg’s aunt and sometime publicist.
“Into the studio they went where Scott, a recording engineer, says he worked closed with Wes to help refine his sound [and] songwriting skills,” added Griffiths, who is also a Peninsula Daily News columnist.
One thing led to another, and now Stromberg has released a single, “Spice,” on the Sound Matrix label.
It’s a pop-rock tune about “going to a party, hanging out and meeting a super cool, hot girl,” Stromberg said of the song, which is available via the online music distribution sites CDBaby.com and Reverbnation.com.
“Just type my name in” — Wesley Stromberg —and the Sequim songwriter’s work will appear.
“Spice” is available as an MP3 download for 99 cents, while more information about the songwriter can be found on Facebook.com and www.wesley.me.
Stromberg, the son of California-based composer and conductor William Stromberg and Sequim harpist and composer Laraine Claire Larson, has moved to Long Beach, Calif., and is at work on more music, for release in the coming months.
Unhesitatingly, he outlines his hopes for the future: “To get a No. 1 hit out there, and play music for the rest of my life.”
Stromberg started guitar lessons in Sequim at age 7, but dropped the instrument after a while.
Then, at 11, he tried again, with guitar teacher Tim Halpin of Port Townsend.
Halpin, known for his music with bands such as The Better Half, “taught me a lot of stuff,” Stromberg said.
By the time he was 12, Stromberg had a band, American Scholar; he went on to perform in various venues around Sequim, including the Wednesday open-mic nights at The Buzz cafe, 128 N. Sequim Ave.
“He became a local heart-throb,” Griffiths said.
She quoted “Sunrise from the West,” a song her nephew wrote when he was 15:
“You see, my window faces toward the western sea/ I wake up sunless, and all I want is more/ Is that too much to ask? For God, it’d be such an easy task/ For just one day, to have the sun rise up my way.”
Stromberg is still on the West Coast, but in a place where there’s lots more artificial light.
He’s sharing an apartment, Griffiths reported, with Drew Chadwick and Evan Watkins, who are also from Sequim.
They’re now members of Stromberg’s current band, based in Long Beach.
“I want to give a shout-out to all my good friends in Sequim,” Stromberg said.
“I love that town.”
________Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]