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Middle school band to rock at world’s largest music festival

photoThe A+ Dropouts: From left, Rob Wimberly, 14, of Sterling; Cheska Zaide, 12, of Ashburn; Alex Jongbloed, 14, of Ashburn;  and Zach Benson, 13, of Leesburg. Photo Courtesy/Rina Zaide


Justin Bieber, Santana and Carrie Underwood are just a few of the names that will play this year on one of 11 stages during the 11-day Summerfest Festival, deemed the world’s largest music festival. It will take place in Milwaukee, Wis., June 24 through July 4.

Loudoun’s A+ Dropouts, a middle school band, has been invited to play as emerging artists at the US Cellular Connection Stage June 25.

“Bands our age don’t really get to do much of anything, so I’m really excited about it,” said Zach Benson, a drummer from Leesburg.

It all started in November 2009 when Cheska Zaide, the lead singer and guitar player from Ashburn, left another band to form a new one.
Zaide found Benson, from Leesburg, through her father, who worked with Benson’s father.

Rob Wimberly, the lead guitarist from Sterling, found out about the band through a flyer. Bass player Alex Jongbloed, from Ashburn, went to the same school as Zaide.

Thomas Dunlap, from Broad Run High School, will be filling in for Jongbloed at Summerfest.

Band members are thrilled they are going to be near so many well-known musicians.

“We saw the Silversun Pickups when they played at the Patriot Center, and I really wanted to one day open for them,” Zaide said about one of her band idols. “Now we get to play at the same festival as they do.”

Since A+ Dropouts formed, the seventh- and eighth-graders have practiced twice a week and are in the process of writing new songs.

“Sometimes, it gets kind of hard,” Zaide said about juggling school and band practice. “It gets easier toward the end of the year.”

A+ Dropouts’ music has been inspired by artists such as No Doubt and Paramore. They have performed for Sister Hazel and Forever the Sickest Kids, and have toured in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D. C.

From the sound of it, it seems that A+ Dropouts are going to give their fans much more to listen to.

“I want to keep in this band for as long as possible, perhaps even beyond high school,” Benson said.


Wow! These guys seem like they know what they’re doing! Go A+ Dropouts

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