Rock power trio Turtle Wax competing for rock honors at Summerfest grounds this week

Turtle Wax, from left, Rafael “Raf” Baglio, Rhea Garbis and Andrew “AJ” Hake. (Submitted photo)

Three talented teens from the Lake Geneva House of Music are vying for a chance at playing at the Big Gig, Summerfest 2017.

Andrew “AJ” Hake and Rafael “Raf” Baglio, both 2017 Badger High School graduates, and Rhea Garbis, a senior at Richmond Burton High School, Richmond, Illinois, are Turtle Wax.

Well, for now, anyway.

The power trio rock band hasn’t really settled on a permanent name. But Hake and Baglio agreed in a recent interview that Turtle Wax was a much better name than Love Jacks.

AJ plays guitar. Rafael is on drums.

Rhea does vocals, and, she said, because AJ is so good on lead guitar, she plays bass.

Love Jacks was suggested by Chris Buttleman, music professional, founder of House of Music, and mentor of Turtle Wax.

Proud of trio

Buttleman said he’s proud of the three talented youngsters, even if they can’t settle on a name. And, he added, he was sorry they didn’t like the name Love Jacks.

The trio won the battle of the bands at ChocolateFest, Burlington, performing as the, ahem, Love Jacks.

They had recently performed at the House of Blues Chicago as Rhea and the Karate Kidz.

The music-centered Chicago restaurant-night club sponsors a regular program featuring young talent called Bringin’ Down the House.

Buttleman said AJ and Rafael, who are good friends, came to the House of Music four years ago hardly knowing how to play their instruments, and grew as musicians.

“I’ve enjoyed watching their growth,” Buttleman said of AJ and Raf. “It’s been an excellent experience working with those two.”

Rhea has been with House of Music for about a year. Buttleman called her “an exceptional talent.”

He said there is no doubt that she will be a career artist.

Rhea, who has a solo act, said she was looking for a band to back her up when she performed at the House of Blues Chicago.

“She kept asking us to be in a band,” said AJ.

Persistence must have paid off, because AJ and Rafael agreed.

The three young performers said House of Blues was an exciting venue to play. But the band name they used that night just didn’t feel right.

And Love Jacks? Forget that.

Why Turtle Wax?

But naming a band after an automotive polish is not usual. How did that happen?

“We’re really slow …” started Rafael, only to have the other band members exclaim that that was not where the name came from.

Instead, said AJ, he noticed a bottle of polish that Buttleman uses to shine guitars.

The label said Turtle Wax.

AJ suggested it as a band name, and everyone else seemed to agree that it was OK, he said.

Turtle Wax (for now) is one of 12 bands that will perform at the Summerfest grounds on June 28 and 29, vying for a number one or two spot that will get them on the Briggs & Stratton Stage at Summerfest on July 9.

Buttleman said the group found the contest on their own and used House of Music as the setting for their auditioning music video.

The group will perform starting 2 p.m. June 29 at the Johnson Controls Stage.

“It’s really cool, we’re really excited,” said Rhea, who acts as spokeswoman and excitement coordinator for the band.

“I love to perform. It’s one of my best things ever,” said Rhea.

“I’ve always wanted to try music and play in a band,” added Rafael.

Rockonsin event

Turtle Wax and the 11 other competing bands were selected from 55 Rockconsin entrants representing 83 state high schools. Rockonsin is a statewide garage band competition for musicians in seventh through 12th grades.

Dennis Graham Associates, a professional music development company, produced the garage-band-styled program specifically to bring young talent to Summerfest.

Rhea said the bands sent in auditioning CDs this past spring, which were judged by music professionals. The 12 finalists were recently notified of their selection.

The band is looking beyond its Summerfest appearance.

While they play a variety of covers, they are also working on their original music and have two songs written so far. One of the songs in progress is called “Love Jacks.”

In an iPhone recording of one of the original pieces, Rhea’s voice has a Grace Slick-like quality. Rhea said she wrote the song in about 20 minutes.

“We put it together as a band when we first played it,” AJ said.

According to the Rockconsin website, rockonsin.org, all musical genres are accepted: country, rock, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, metal, Americana, bluegrass, folk, and other. Bands can play covers or originals or a mix of the two.

The winning band and runner-up will also get a free professional recording session at Madison’s Blast House Studios, 12 hours for the winning band and eight hours for the runner-up.

Each of the 12 performing bands will receive two Shure microphones, one vocal and one instrumental.

One band (must be punk, rock or metal) will be chosen by the state finals judges at Summerfest to represent Rockonsin at the 2017 Vans Warped Tour Milwaukee stop on July 24 on the Summerfest grounds.

According to a list of the competitors, Turtle Wax is scheduled to perform its 15-minute set at 2:10 p.m. June 29 at Johnson Controls World Sound Stage.

The band is set to perform four covers, Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing;” Jefferson Airplane’s “(Don’t You Want) Somebody to Love;” The Runaway’s “Cherry Bomb;” and Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame (although it will probably sound more like Cheap Trick’s version.)

As for Turtle Wax, whether the band members realize it or not, it does have a Walworth County connection. The founder of the car polish company made frequent visits to Wisconsin from his Chicago home. He named his product after Turtle Creek, which runs through western Walworth and eastern Rock counties.

Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.