By Ashley del Rio, Multimedia Editor
Photo Courtesy of: Christian Park
Los Angeles Harbor College very own rockstar Pedro Vazquez, is on his rise to fame.
The lights shine down and the music sounds from the amps surrounding him as he expertly hits every note of his solo. He glances up at the crowd with a smile on his face as they cheer him on at a recent performance on September 16th.
It is a typical night for Pedro Vazquez, a 20 year old Los Angeles Harbor College student on his rise to fame.
The South Bay native is the guitarist of the up and coming rock band “The Strays”, who have made a name for themselves all over Southern California at venues such as the Whiskey A Go-Go, the Viper Room, the House of Blues, the Roxy, and many others.
The Strays are a “rocky, jazzy, alternative, funky sounding” band according to its four members. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you definitely will soon. Even though they formed the band a little over a year ago. The band has been leaving their mark all over the South Bay and the Los Angeles area. With a huge social media following, The Strays have accumulated a massive fan base reaching all the way to the Midwest and the East Coast. They have a demo recorded and have recently been interviewed by “The Beach Reporter.” In addition, the band has a number of residencies at various local bars and they expect to go on tour in the near future.
Although the Strays have been working their way up the underground music ladder, their talented guitarist, Pedro Vazquez, is still a dedicated college student. For Pedro, school and music go hand in hand. While attending Harbor College, he has gained a new understanding of music, as well as an array of valuable skills such as sight reading and jazz improvisation.
“It’s great to have an eclectic guitarist in the band who truly knows what he’s doing. Pedro’s a staple,” said The Strays bassist Harrison Wagner.
For someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes music, it is no surprise that Pedro has a declared music major. However, he wasn’t a music major before The Strays. In Fall 2014, Pedro was enrolled in the nursing program, but after struggling for two years. He decided the program was not for him. Choosing to follow his passion, Pedro began focusing on musical endeavors with the help of Harbor College’s music program. He was strongly inspired by his Jazz instructor, Ann Patterson, who pushed him to focus on rhythm and introduced him to various musical styles.
“I’ve met many great musicians and instructors at Harbor that have influenced me and being at Harbor has really helped me grow. I feel like if I went anywhere else I would have been way too overwhelmed and way too stressed out,” Pedro admits.
Pedro has been progressing through the music program ever since, and has even earned himself a spot to receive free guitar lessons from Evan Hirschleman, a USC Graduate and Harbor College Instructor. Pedro is one of three students who earned this coveted position after an intense audition with many competing applicants. After almost skipping the audition due to lack of self confidence, Pedro had to quickly decide whether or not he believed in himself and his talents. He eventually pushed through and learned the value of never giving up.
Los Angeles Harbor College has helped Pedro to not only follow his dreams, but to achieve his goals both musically and academically. He continues to advocate his appriciation for his instructors and classmates, believing that he would not have gotten this far without them. He also recommends the music program to “Any student striving to master the fundamentals of the art of music.”
“Music is freedom,” he proudly asserts. “Music is your soul becoming sound. I just remind myself that I’m learning about music, I’m a musician and I’m studying music and that is the greatest thing I can be doing.”
Photo courtesy of: Ashley del Rio, Multimedia Editor