by Howard Kohn
It’s okay that the four members of the Takoma Park band, Ladle Fight, have yet to get their picture on the cover of Rolling Stone. They are only in the eighth grade. Besides, they are featured on an inside page in the latest Rolling Stone, with two photos, and a bit of hyperbole.
The magazine puts them in the same company as Sting’s 20 year-old daughter, Coco Summer, and calls them “the youngest Indie rock band in the world” and “a harbinger of the future.”
This declaration of fame is limited to the German edition of Rolling Stone, mind you, but that in itself is a story.
The Ladle Fight kids — Ben Miller (bass, vocals, ukulele), Zeke Wapner
(guitar), Michael Untereinter (guitar) and Ian Askew (drums, vocals,
harmonica) — have been writing songs and performing together for five
years. A year ago, they went into a recording studio with Ben’s uncle,
New York musician and producer James Katz, and created their debut
Takoma Park music impresario Marika Partridge handed a copy of the CD to
Bob Boilen, her former partner at National Public Radio and creator of
All Songs Considered, a website featuring “Tiny Desk Concert” podcasts.
Bob handed the CD to Sarah Ventre, an NPR intern, who checked out Ladle
Fight at the Takoma Park Folk Festival and invited the band to come up
for an acoustic gig in the NPR studios, where they inaugurated a web
project called “Tinier Desk Concerts” for teen musicians.
Next came a blitzschlag out of the blue. The German editor of Rolling
Stone discovered Ladle Fight on the NPR website. He selected the band,
with photography by Takoma Park teenager Xorissa Ravitz, for a special
section in the February issue called “The Future of Music.” He
characterizes their songs as “impeccably non-conformist.”
If the name Ladle Fight doesn’t leap to mind, it should be noted that
Ben, Zeke, Michael and Ian used to call themselves High Definition. Then
they called themselves Blah Blah Blah, then The Sporks. Remember –
they are kids.
You can see them in their acoustic incarnation at Capitol City
Cheesecake on April 14, a promotion for the folk festival. Their CD is
available on iTunes and at the House of Musical Traditions.